The Convention of the Gods

The Convention of the Gods – 1987




The Convention of the Gods



A one act play







John E. Leahy

The Convention of the Gods


Barracks style, spartan wooden beams, long wood tables, benches. Sign over door proclaims “The Mess Hall of the Gods”. Platters of food and bottles and pitchers of drink are on table, along with metal plates and pewter goblets. Some upturned bottles and goblets are on tables and floor. Siren, or work whistle blows a piercing, shrill blast. All hell breaks loose. The gods run in frantically from all sides. They are shouting, clutching and punching each other, in a mad frenzy to get seats at the benches. The gods are wearing combat boots, punk sunglasses, sleeveless undershirts, and fatigues. The feast of the gods begins with slurping, sloshing, gnashing, and fighting over chicken drum sticks. One god at the head of the table stands up, bangs his mug on the table and screams:

Nylon                             I am Nylon, God of Neither Organic Nor Inorganic! With this feast, I proclaim the commencement of the Convention of the Gods.

Rayon                            Salt! There is never enough salt. Did somebody find salt?

Phlegm                         Ha! Rayon, you fool. You have entire planets made out of nothing but salt and you keep losing them. If you had any real responsibility you’d be dangerous. (Fills mug from pitcher.) I say, Lucid, I heard you’ve started a new universe. How’s it going?

Lucid                              Ha. You should see it. I made these creatures that reproduce themselves with one gender but I also gave them heterosexual desire. I’ve got the little bastards running around like mad all their lives. (Waving bone in air) If you get bored with your little fools and want a good laugh, come on over and observe. I can watch them for hundreds of years at a time and never be bored. (Wipes grease off chin.)

Tom                                  That’s nothing. I made a universe that has no mathematics.

Phlegm                         Tom, you’re a genius. How’d you do it.

Tom                                  It was easy. I was drunk when I made it and I just forgot to put it in. You should see the components trying to react with each other. There are no rules for them and nothing even to make rules with.

Lucid                              Phlegm, where’s our favorite mascot? I don’t see him.

Phlegm                         He’s outside. Wait, I’ll get him. (Bellows) Hey Porcupine! Get in here. (Jumps up and runs out. Comes back dragging Porcupine by the shoulder. Porcupine is preoccupied, staring at something in his hand. He is mostly bald, old, drooling, and slurping his saliva. His hands shake. He is wearing a ragged and dirty cape.)

Lucid                              Hey Porcupine. What are they calling you on your planet Earth these days? Allah? Jehovah? Vishnu? Thor?

Porcupine                Heh! Heh! Heh! (Plays myopically with small object in front of his eyes) Heh! Heh! Heh! Heh!

Lucid                              Hey Porcupine. Earth! Remember?

Porcupine                (Looks up) Earth. Ah. (Looks in cape under arm, then behind him, turns full circle and is fooling with small object in front of his eyes again) Heh! Heh! Heh!

Phlegm                         Leave that shit alone, you idiot! (Smacks object out of Porcupine’s hands. A god at the table notices out of the corner of his eye and dives on the object and devours it. Porcupine watches in horror for a moment then forgets about it. He spaces out.)

Lucid                              Phlegm, wake him up.

Phlegm                         (Shakes Porcupine) Wake up, you hopeless cretin! How’s Earth? Earth!

Porcupine                Earth? (Look of recognition passes over his face.) Earth. Heh! Heh! (Passes one hand into pants and starts rubbing crotch. His eyes bulge then glaze over. He spaces out rubbing his crotch.)

Lucid                              (Smacks Porcupine’s hand away) You filthy pig! You’re worse than some of the creatures in my twisted galaxy.

Phlegm                         Yeah, get out of here, you scum! (Pushes Porcupine who falls down and sits on floor. He puts his hand back in his pants and rubs his crotch, then he falls backwards and lies on his back, playing with himself.) What a useless halfwit!

Rayon                            Salt! Give me salt! (Starts grabbing a neighbor’s plate. They roll onto floor. Rayon finally gets on top and strangles the other god to death. Then he jumps up and licks his plate.)

(Loud siren sounds)

Phlegm                         (Jumps up) The time! (Runs out. Comes running back in holding big clock.) Damn! I forgot!

Lucid                              I’m sick and tired of time. (Grabs clock from Phlegm and smashes it on the ground.) Events always following in each other in chronological order. Never any change in the process. It’s bullshit, I tell you!

Phlegm                         But that was my fourth dimension! (Despairing)

Lucid                              Fuck all dimensions!

Tom                                 And fuck all matter and energy!

Lucid                              I spit on them. (He spits)

(Gong sounds. Nylon gets up)

Nylon                             Attention! Attention! (After hubbub subsides) A few announcements of general interest.

Item number 1: Skip was walking home drunk after a meeting with some of the other gods and passed out in the gutter. This event would be insignificant except for the fact that he also lost his universe. (Cheers and guffaws.) If anyone finds it, please return it to the Bureau of Misplaced Universes.

Item number 2: Rufus passed away recently by drowning in the bathtub. He is survived by two universes which will be raffled off later. (Chorus of boo’s and one god calls out.)

1 god                              Let them go untended!

2nd god                         Yeah, fuck ‘em!

Nylon                             Order! Order!

Tom                                  Bullshit! Let’s eat!

(Everybody cheers and dives into food in orgiastic frenzy. Siren sounds. Lights out.)



Set is quite dark. Nighttime. A few stars, a few rocks, desert. A man slowly crawls out from behind a boulder. He is very timid and clutches to the rock, looking around him as if afraid of attack. He slowly and cautiously explores the stage and returns to the center, cringing and looking up at the stars with his arms wrapped around himself. Then he leans back and howls like a wolf, two or three times. Pause. Howls again, mournfully tailing off. Pause. He crawls back fearfully to the rock and sleeps in a fetal position.



Daytime, outside, people are down on their knees and bowed over to the sun. Herman the Hero stomps in. Herman the Hero is big, muscular and dressed like a Gothic warrior with armor, sword and spear. He is dirty and tired after traveling. He stands in the middle of the groveling worshippers.

Herman                       Is anybody awake here? (Pause. No response. People continue groveling and worshipping.) Is anybody going to answer me? (Pause) What the hell are you people doing here, offering your asses to the moon and your heads to the sun? (Pause, no response.) You! (Kicks one worshipper in the ribs.) Get up you fool! (Worshipper clutches ribs in pain but remains in position. Herman the Hero kicks him again.) Get up I said! Don’t you have any pride? Look at what you’re doing. Groveling like a snake on his belly. Hear me, you undignified wretches. I am Herman the Hero, and I kneel down before nothing. (Old man rises from front.)

Old Man                    We hear you, impudent puppy. Have you no respect? We are worshipping the sun god who was kind and gave us warmth and food. (All the people are looking timidly but with horrified curiosity at Herman the Hero.)

Herman                       The gods gave you nothing. Everything you have is made by the sweat of man. Stand up. Pay homage to nobody.

Old Man                    Quiet! What you say is heresy. The gods will punish you and strike you down.

Herman                       Ha! I will strike the gods down and run them through on my spear.

Old Man                    (To the people.) He is mad. Carry on. Prepare the offering.

Herman                       What offering?

Old Man                    We offer one part of our food and wine to the sun to please him so he will be kind and give us food again.

Herman                    Why don’t you just eat the food.

Old Man                    No. We must leave it.

Herman                    Why?

Old Man                    It is written in the old books.

Herman                    And who wrote the old books? Other idiots like you who knew nothing and were afraid of everything.

Old Man                    (To the people.) This man is crazy. Leave the offering and let us go home.

Herman                    What do you think happens to the food?

Old Man                    The sun god comes and eats it. It is always gone the next day.

Herman                     The birds and the wild dogs eat it. And today I will eat it for I am hungry.

Old Man                    Come. Let us go home quickly. It is dangerous to talk to this crazy man. (People leave food and wine and exit.)

Herman                       (Sits down on rock.) Fools! They are afraid to do anything and even afraid to think. (Enter Girl. Girl is carrying food. She is about 20 years old, pretty.) So, have you come to talk to the crazy man?

Girl                                Everyone is afraid of you. They say you will bring the wrath of the gods.

Herman                       I will kill all the gods!

Girl                                You mustn’t say that! Aren’t you afraid of the gods?

Herman                       I am afraid of nothing. I am alone. I fight alone. I exist for no reason and never asked to exist. And I fear no gods and kneel down before nothing.

Girl                                You are very brave, but I am afraid for you. The people say you will die and anybody with you will die.

Herman                       If that is true then why are you here?

Girl                                You will need some food, so that you don’t have to eat the offering.

Herman                       You are kind and you are brave also to come here.

Girl                                No. I am afraid. (Herman the Hero grabs bread and begins to eat. Girl is standing in front of him, watching him devour the bread.) Is there something else you need?

Herman                       (Puts down bread, looks at Girl, then leans forward and puts hands on her waist.) You are beautiful. I like you. Your body is beautiful. I want to touch it.

Girl                                 (Steps back out of his hands.) No. I am afraid of you.

Herman                       (Looks at her, disappointed, for a moment then shrugs his head and picks up bread again.) You people know nothing but fear. (Eats. Pause.)

Girl                                Do you really want to kill the gods?

Herman                       Yes.

Girl                                Why?

Herman                       If the gods make us exist for no reason or purpose, they should at least let us live in peace. But they pester us and molest us. They kill us with drought, famine, storms and disease. They took away my father, my mother, my brothers, my whole family with plague and floods. For this the gods shall pay. I will never forgive them and I will kill them all for it.

Girl                                What happened to your family is very sad. But I don’t think you can kill the gods.

Herman                       I will find them and they will die. And now I must go. (Gets up. Stands in front of Girl and puts hand on her cheek. Then he turns from her and exits. She looks after him for a moment and then slowly follows.)



Heavy organ music. Dimly lit. Light fog. Porcupine shuffles on stage, playing with marionettes and cackling feeble mindedly. Suddenly he spaces out and drops the marionettes. Then he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cheap cigarette lighter. He stares at it, puzzled, for a moment, then flicks the lighter. The flame goes out. Pause. He flicks it again. Pause. He repeatedly flicks the lighter on and off, staring at it in happy amazement and cackling like a chicken. Enter Tom.

Tom                                  Hello Porcupine, my friend.

Porcupine                (Without taking his eyes off the flashing lighter, he answers him with demented speech.) Hi Tom.

Tom                            How’s your Earth doing?

Porcupine                (Still flicking and staring at the lighter) Gosh, I don’t know, Tom

Tom                            Do you mind if we take a look?

Porcupine                Sure, Tom. (They bend over, looking down. Porcupine points downwards.) There it is. (Pause)

Tom                            Hey look! They’re praying to you.

Porcupine                Yeah. Uh huh. (Pause. Porcupine straightens up. He looks off into space for a moment and then flicks the cigarette lighter and stares at it with fascination again. He slowly turns away and shuffles offstage, staring at the lighter. Tom stares after him, laughing incredulously. Enter Phlegm.)

Tom                            Ho Phlegm.

Phlegm                      Hello Tom. What are you doing here?

Tom                            I was talking to Porcupine. We looked down at his Earth and they were praying to him. He just turned around and walked away.

Phlegm                      Ha! Ha! Ha! What an imbecile! Do they ever pray to you in your universe?

Tom                            Are you kidding? With no mathematics they’re so lost they can’t do anything. How about you?

Phlegm                      Sure. The pathetic little twits are bugging me with it all the time. You want to take a look?

Tom                            Why not?

Plegm                         OK. (They bend over and look down.) Let’s see. They should be doing it somewhere now. (Pause) There! You see?

Tom                            Huh? Oh yeah. I see them.

Phlegm                      Ha! Ha! Look at them go at it. Aren’t they disgusting? God, how I hate the little bastards.

Tom                            Yeah, they make you want to puke.

Phlegm                      Let’s fix their asses good. Watch this. Just one thunderbolt. (Shakes his hand violently downwards.)

Tom                            Bull’s eye! (They both start laughing hysterically.)

Phlegm                      I got them good, didn’t I?

Tom                            Ah, Phlegm. (laughing so hard that he is staggering.) You’re too much.

Phlegm                      That was great! Come on. Let’s go drink. (They exit)



Nighttime, barren desert with rocks. Man slowly crawls out from behind a rock. He is fearful and cautious. He looks around. Then he explores the stage and returns to the center. He wraps his arms around himself and huddles. The he begins wolf howl. Mournful and plaintive. He pauses. Then he repeats the wolf howl. He pauses again. Suddenly he hears another howl answering him in the distance. He sits upright, tensely listening. Now nothing. Silence again. He howls again and listens expectantly. The howl answers again. He slowly sits down in wonderment. He thinks. Finally, he stretches, looks around, and goes to sleep in the fetal position beside the big rock.



People are sitting bent over with their hands together behind their necks. They are sitting in front of the Big Circle, which is upright on the ground. Enter Herman the Hero and Girl from behind. Herman the Hero stands in the middle of the people and looks disdainfully at them. Then he goes over to the Big Circle, peers at it closely for a moment, and then kicks it over into the dust.

Herman                      Get up, you stupid people! Stop wasting your time with this piece of wood.

People 1                    What have you done?!

People 2                    Heretic!

People 3                    That’s the Sacred Circle. The soul of god passed through it on the way to paradise. We too must pass through the Sacred Circle to reach paradise after our suffering here is through.

Herman                       Ha! You fools. You’re lucky if your god uses your sacred circle as a target to piss at.

People 1                    (Holding the Big Circle.) Look! He has broken the Sacred Circle!

People 2                    Kill the heretic!

People 3                    Kill him! (They attack Herman the Hero, but Herman the Hero charges them with his spear and chases them off screaming. Herman the Hero comes back laughing. Girl is crouched down, covering her head and crying.)

Herman                       Ha. Chicken shit weaklings! I am Herman the Hero. I can kill all of them and all their stupid gods too. (Sees Girl crying.) What is this? Why are you crying, Girl?

Girl                                You shouldn’t frighten these people and mock their gods. They have nothing else.

Herman                       (Angrily) Bah. They are spineless trash. Their sacred circle is nothing more than firewood. Go find us some food. (She obediently goes off. Herman the Hero sits down. Girl returns.)

Girl                                Here is food. (Herman the Hero takes some food, then puts it down.)

Herman                       I feel good. I feel strong. Come here, Girl. (Girl comes cautiously and fearfully. Herman the Hero grabs her by the waist and pulls her to him. He kisses her stomach.) Your body is beautiful. I want it now!

Girl                                (Pushes him away and retreats.) No. I am afraid of you.

Herman                       (Shakes his head, sighs, picks up some food and throws her some.) Here. Eat. I will take care of you. (They eat. She eyes him uncertainly. He gnaws his food with concentration. Then pauses and looks at her.) Why are you here?

Girl                               I am following you.

Herman                      Why?

Girl                               You are very brave and I’m afraid you will die.

Herman                      (Enraged) Die! I am Herman the Hero! My enemies die, not me. (Girl doesn’t answer.) Do you hear me? (He grabs her face and turns it up to him.) I will go kill all the gods and I’ll bring back their scalps for you. (He lets go of her face and starts eating again, very happy with himself. She watches him sadly.)

Girl                               I will ask the gods to be merciful to you. (Herman the Hero smacks her sharply with a backhand. She stays crouched over and makes no sound.)

Herman                      Don’t bother me with your stupid gods. They will need my mercy. Don’t you understand? Why do I waste my time with you. You’re a weakling like all the others. (Herman the Hero stands up and exits. Girl picks up the food and follows him.)





In the middle of the galaxy. Stars are swirling all around. Spacey music (Steve Miller- In My First Mind from Children of the Future). Middle aged man and his young adult son enter.

Man                                  We are moving through the stars and through time. We don’t know when the journey began or who began it, but we carry on, each generation a little further. To a destination nobody knows.

Son                                    Why, father?

Man                                  I don’t know, my son. Nobody does. We just do it. You can’t fall off the stars.

Son                                    I don’t understand, father.

Man                                  No, son. I don’t either. Nobody ever has. I have nothing more to teach you.

(Pause. They exit.)





Nighttime. Herman the Hero is sitting on a rock next to a fire (stones around a glowing light). He has roasted meat on a spit and is eating. Enter Girl. Girl stands in light of fire but does not dare come nearer.

Herman                       (Sees Girl.) So, you are still here? (Pause.) Come over here to the fire and eat. See, I have killed an animal for us to eat. (Girl comes and sits at fire across from Herman the Hero.) Come over here next to me. (Girl does not move. Herman the Hero gets up and sits next to her. He grabs her face and turns it to him.) How is your face? (He touches her cheek gently with his other hand. They look at each other for a moment.) Here. Take some food and then rest.

(Herman the Hero speaks softly to her for the first time. He gives her food and she eats. A wolf howl is heard in the distance. Girl tenses up and looks around, frightened.)

Herman                       (Laughs.) The wild creatures calling to each other in the darkness. They won’t bother you. Herman the Hero is watching. (Pause. She eats.) Who are you more afraid of now, the wild beasts or me?

Girl                               I am not so afraid of you now. I thought you were angry with me.

Herman                      I was angry with you. But that is over now. (Pause.)

Girl                               Do you still wish to kill the gods?

Herman                      Do you think that Herman the Hero changes his mind in one day?

Girl                               I know I can say nothing to change your mind, but I wish you would forget your vengeance and stay with me.

Herman                      Girl, I will never rest until all the gods are dead. Then I will come back to you and we will start a new world.

(Herman the Hero puts his arm around her shoulder and pulls her to him. Girl leans her head on his chest. Lights out.)





Nighttime. A few rocks, otherwise barren. A man crawls cautiously and fearfully out from behind a rock. He looks around and explores the stage. He comes back to the center and sits, huddled with his arms wrapped around him. Then he leans back and howls like a wolf. He howls 2, 3 times, then pauses. Then a wolf howl is heard very close by. The man leaps up, all bent over, startled. Then another man enters and they both freeze upon seeing each other. Pause.

1st man                          Was that you?

2nd man                        Yes. I heard you calling.

(The two men slowly approach each other until the are face to face. Each puts his hands on the face of the other. Then suddenly, they passionately and desperately embrace one another. The relief from the pain of solitude is written on their contorted faces. They step back with hands on shoulders or waists.)

1st man                          I’ve been here alone since the beginning of time. Every night looking out into the vast darkness; naked, alone, unprotected. Feeling nothing but the terror and fear of one small individual in the overwhelming void of empty, crushing eternity.

2nd man                        You won’t be alone anymore. We will share the eternal darkness together. (They sit with arms around shoulders and look up into the night sky.)




Porcupine is sitting on a rock. It is daytime. Barren land with rocks. Herman the Hero enters, followed by Girl.

Herman                       We will stop here and rest. (They sit.) Hey old man. (Porcupine does not respond.) Hey! Can you tell us where we are?

Porcupine                Of course, I can. I made this place.

Herman                     (Laughing.) Then you must be like the gods.

Porcupine                Oh no. I’m not like them at all.

Herman                     I am looking for the gods.

Porcupine                Then you must be a philosopher.

Herman                     No. I studied philosophy when I was younger. But I learned nothing because there is nothing to learn.

Porcupine                (Chuckles to himself.) Yes, that reminds me. I had an idea one time. (He pauses and then spaces out. Herman the Hero is looking at him and finally reaches out and shakes his knee.)

Herman                     Hey, old man. Can you tell me where I can find the gods?

Porcupine                (Points.) Over there. They should all be in the mess hall now.

Herman                     (Very animated.) At last my moment has come. (He jumps up with fire in his eyes.) I will catch them all together in one spot. (To Girl.) You stay here. I will come back for you when I am done. I go now to drink the blood of the gods. (He starts to go. Girl jumps up.)

Girl                              Wait! (Herman the Hero stops, turns and comes back to her. He puts his hand behind her head and kisses her forehead. Then he turns and quickly exits. Girl looks after him until he is gone and then looks down forlornly. She sits down and addresses Porcupine.)

Girl                              He is going to die. (Weeps.)

Porcupine                (Nodding.) They all do. I made a mistake.

(Girl stops weeping and stoically dries her tears. She takes some food and hands some to Porcupine.)

Girl                              Here, take some bread.

(Porcupine takes the bread and they eat. Suddenly Porcupine starts choking. He chokes until he dies. Girl is horror stricken.)

Girl                              He’s dead! Poor old man. He choked to death on a piece of bread. God was unkind to him. (Pause.) And I must wait here, for the man who will never return.

(Lights out.)





Mess Hall of the Gods as in Scene 1. The gods are noisily eating and drinking like gluttons. Enter Herman the Hero. He bangs the butt of his spear on the floor boards.

Herman                       (Yells over the din.) Hear me, you gods! Hear me and listen to your judgement! (The gods turn and stare at Herman the Hero. some of them have food hanging out of their mouths.) I am Herman the Hero, the executioner of the gods. No longer will men bow down to you. No longer will they thank you for your merciless crimes. I know the truth. The gods are to blame for all suffering and for this the gods shall be punished. With my hands and my sword of steel, the gods shall feel the vengeance of every creature that existed, of everything that ever suffered. And now the moment of justice has arrived!

Phlegm                         (Laughing.) Rayon, swat this miserable fly and let’s get back to our feast.

Tom                              He talks well. Maybe we should stuff him and have him mounted. (The gods roar with laughter. Rayon advances on Herman the Hero, but Herman the Hero kills him with a spear thrust. The gods become alarmed and start yelling.)

Lucid                            Kill him!

Phlegm                        Get the bastard!

Nylon                           Get him! Chop him up!

(Herman the Hero draws his sword. The gods charge him but Herman the Hero kills one after another with his sword. He kills at least a dozen. Phlegm, Lucid and Tom are amongst the survivors.)

Phlegm                        This man is strong. Which jackass made him?

(The gods again charge. Herman the Hero slaughters them one after another. Lucid runs offstage and runs back in behind Herman the Hero. Lucid is carrying a pistol. Lucid shoots Herman the Hero in the back. Herman the Hero is mortally wounded and staggers.)

Herman                       I am slain. Shot in the back by the trickery of the gods who could not stand and do battle face to face like a man. Count the corpses of the gods and know the vengeance of Herman the Hero. I die. (Herman the Hero dies.)

(The remaining gods look around them, completely stunned. Then they are outraged.)

Tom                              The filthy wretch!

Nylon                           Scum!

Phlegm                        The nerve of the bastards!

Lucid                            So, they’re discontented, are they?

Phlegm                        We’ll show those insects, won’t we?! Get the dynamite! (Gods start roaring with laughter.)

Tom                              Yeah, and let’s eat and drink.

(The gods start eating and drinking tumultuously and ravenously, laughing hysterically, slobbering, and drooling. A god comes in carrying dynamite and a plunger. The gods hook up the dynamite.)

Phlegm                        Alright, we’ll show those idiots.

Tom                              Yeah, they thought they had problems before. Let them see what it’s like with no gods around. (Cackling.)

Lucid                            Ha! Ha! Ha!

(Tom grabs the plunger and pushes it down. Violent explosion and the mess hall is destroyed and all the gods are killed. Pause on the destroyed mess hall. Silence. Lights out.)






Daytime. Barren area with a few rocks. Girl is sitting and weeping. She gets up and comes to the front of the stage, facing the audience.)

Girl                                   My wild hero has gone to meet his death. I am left here alone with no man and I am carrying his child. What will become of me? What will I do now? Where will I go? Will my child be strong enough for this godless wasteland? My child will need some of the fire that flowed in the veins of his father and blazed in his eyes, for now we know that there are no gods. My brave hero has killed them all.