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[Block goes to confess at a confessional alcove in a church]
Block: I want to confess as best I can, but my heart is empty, and the emptiness a mirror facing me. I see myself and am filled with loathing and horror. My indifference to men has shut me out from their company. I live now in a world of ghosts, a prisoner of my dreams and fantasies.
Priest: Yet you do not want to die.
Block: Yes, I do.
[as Block looks away, we see now that the "priest" is actually Death]
Priest/Death: What are you waiting for?
Block: I want knowledge.
Priest/Death: You want guarantees.
Block: Call it what you will.
[Block kneels as if praying to the figure of Jesus]
Block: Is it so awfully unthinkable to conceive of God with one's senses? Why should He conceal Himself in a fog of half-spoken promises and unseen miracles? How are we to believe the believers when we don't believe ourselves? What will become of us who want to believe but cannot? And what of those who neither will nor can believe? Why can I not kill God within me? Why does He go on living within me in a painful, humiliating way, though I curse Him and want to tear Him out of my heart? Why does He remain a treacherous reality of which I cannot rid myself? Do you hear me?
Priest/Death: I hear you.
[Block turns to kneel before the priest behind the confessional screen]
Block: I want knowledge. Not belief. Not supposition. But knowledge. I want God to reach out to me, unveil His face, speak to me.
Priest/Death: But He is silent.
Block: I cry to Him in the darkness, but sometimes it is as if there is no one there.
Priest/Death: Perhaps there is no one there.
Block: Then life is a senseless horror. No man can live with Death before his eyes and the knowledge that all is nothing.
Priest/Death: Most people reflect neither upon Death nor nothingness.
Block: Yet they must one day stand at the last shore of life and look into the Darkness.
Priest/Death: Yes, that day.
Block: [laughs bitterly] I see what you mean. We must make an idol of our fear, and that idol we shall call God.
Priest/Death: You are uneasy.
Block: Death visited me this morning. We are playing chess. This respite enables me to perform a vital errand.
Priest/Death: What errand?
Block: My whole life has been coming and going and talking without point or consequence. It has been nothing. I say it without bitterness or self-reproach, for I know that almost all men's lives are made up just like that. But I want to use my respite for one meaningful deed.
Priest/Death: Ah. So this is why you play chess with Death.
Block: He is a dangerous and skillful tactician, [smiling] but I have not yet lost one piece.
Priest/Death: How will you outwit Death?
Block: [smiling] I am playing a a combination of bishop and knight that he has not yet detected. On my next move, I'll shatter his flank.
[the "priest" turns to face Block through the screen]
Death: I shall remember that.
[Block stands up, startled]
Block: You are a traitor and you have tricked me! But we shall meet again, and I'll find a way out.
Death: We shall meet at the inn and continue our game.
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