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The evening sky, high above the city of Jerusalem. Suspended in mid-air is a carpet, upon which lie King Solomon and an attractive female jinn. The jinn has a very pretty name, but we’ll call her Jeannie. With the sound of wind around them, Solomon observes the glow of his city below.
I wasn’t talking about the view.
Solomon turns to Jeannie and kisses her. He goes further, pushing her to the carpet and kissing her neck. Jeannie laughs with delight.
Solomon, you have to—
Say my name again?
Are you sure? I think you’re missing a title.
King Solomon, you have to let me go.
I am the only thing keeping us from the ground.
Casually, still kissing:
Do you know how far above the city we are? How steep the drop is? I need to concentrate. Here—
She gently pushes him away and sits up. She takes his arm and dips it below the carpet.
Do you feel that?
That’s a strong breeze.
That’s me. I’m creating that. It’s for us.
You’re a special girl.
I’m a very special girl.
And you have the King of the Israelites completely at your mercy. You could drop me.
I never could.
Solomon sneaks a kiss. Jeannie laughs.
If you let me work!
It is impressive, isn’t it? All of that is mine. You must be impressed.
You have the wind; that’s impressive. But you can’t see it. This....
He waves his hand over the city.
It’s mine and it’s astounding. I didn’t know I had this many streets.
I can believe that. I would guess you also don’t know how many wives you have.
Are you jealous?
It’s true; I’m the marrying kind. They’re well taken care of.
He looks down.
But I don’t see any of my wives close by. I don’t see anyone. Just a genie.
A wind spirit.
I’m just a girl.
Of course you are.
You don’t need to say what I am. When we’re alone, we’re just man and woman.
You’re very woman. And very magical.
You want magic, you do it. You’re a sorcerer.
Sorcerer? No! Scholar, scholar! Student of life. My father was a fighter. I’m a philosopher. A self-made wise man. I’m a judge. I’m building a temple. I’m smarter than you are.
You’re young. Mortal. You can’t be smarter.
But I try. I try so very hard. I think very hard. So much I exhaust myself.
All that flesh and blood, doing all that work. But you can’t compete. Not with me. You have a mind; I have the wind. Anything I want to know comes from the air. Any lecture, any whisper, I can bring it to me. You can’t compete.
I’ll outsmart you. My genie.
Nobody’s? How did we meet?
You called me and I came.
At my command.
I wanted an audience with the King. That hardly makes me yours.
Yes.... We could do something about that.
All of my current wives, they’re so desperately—earthbound. So human.
She kisses him:
Most wives are like that.
If only there were a way to solve that.
Wise King Solomon, stumped for an answer.
Tell me about beauty. When I met you, you told me it was your specialty.
It is. I study it. When I see something beautiful, I come in for a closer look.
I like close.
They kiss. The wind picks up.
The wind increases further.
Do you think you’re coming on too strong?
Up until now you kept the wind below us.
She looks around the empty sky.
We’re not alone.
The wind blows its worst with the entrance of a Genie. He howls as he swoops in, grabbing Solomon by the throat and holding him up. Solomon gasps.
He motions for Jeannie’s silence.
You listen to me and don’t stop. You call yourself King. You rule over every man and beast in your sight and it isn’t enough. You learn sorcery. You see us, creatures of the air, and you want us, too. You make us slaves. But you’re not getting her.
Gasping, to Jeannie:
Why are you here?
I’m saving you.
Do I need saving?
Genie drops Solomon onto the carpet.
King Solomon is building a temple. He’s using spirits. That’s what he does with his sorcery; he forces us into his command.
Is that what you think? Supernatural jealousy; I’ve never seen it. It’s really something.
Have you seen his temple?
What’s been built. It looks nice.
My people need nice; we need very nice.
Genie glares at Solomon and pushes him from the carpet. Instead of falling, he remains suspended in the air. Genie looks at Jeannie. She folds her arms.
Let him fall.
The King and I were in the middle of something.
Let him fall; he’s harmed too many of us already. Let him fall onto the land he controls and out of the sky he has violated and does not understand.
I can push harder than you can.
Then do it.
Either way, can we make up our minds?
A burst of wind pushes Solomon back onto the carpet. He stays on his knees.
You see how easy that was? We had the chance to turn the King of the Israelites into a stain on the ground. It was effortless. And you think he’s dangerous.
He’s a sorcerer. How did he find you? He summoned you.
Yes, and what a big effort it took him. He’s a bright boy.
That’s the first step. Then he enchants you and enslaves you.
I’m very enchanting.
I don’t ever want that to happen to you.
I’m saving your life.
For immortal spirits, that’s saying something.
You’re almost romantic.
We have a history together. A long one. I never want to give that up. I can’t lose you. I love you.
My dear, I promise you, I was about to say to you the very same thing.
You love me....
I can prove it. Here, let me.
Genie takes Jeannie into his arms and kisses her. Solomon reacts.
Breaking the kiss:
Don’t believe him!
I’ve got a— You’ve got to wait!
You don’t have to say anything.
But Solomon’s right. I don’t believe you. You could have told me this years ago.
There was less at stake then.
It’s jealousy! Flush with blood, or whatever you creatures have, you’ll say anything. However, your majesty is far more constant in his deeds and his words. As well as his actions....
He reveals a ring to Jeannie.
You don’t have to be jealous of my wives anymore.
No. This is what he wants.
You got that right.
This is how he does it. His enchantments bind you!
Marriage is binding. Say yes.
Why shouldn’t I? You don’t know what I’ve found with Solomon. The two of us, up until now, were colleagues. You like to observe and experiment with humanity. I want to experience it. And I found myself a king.
He’s an insect!
He’s mortal. So I don’t think you should get worked up. This isn’t forever.
I’d like to think it is.
Oh, for you, yes, of course.
If you really love me, you can tell me when I’m in between relationships.
You think he’s going to give us that chance?
You think he really loves you?
You see the ring.
Don’t you dare take it.
I’m afraid for what it’ll do to you.
This is all he has to offer.
He scratches his head.
This wasn’t the way I’ve planned this. I’ve had better marriage proposals. If you two want to take some time, work this out—
No, Solomon. I’m not changing my answer. I will marry you.
With a kiss:
I won’t disappoint you.
Get away from her! This is bad.
In between kisses:
Oh, it’s very bad. I’m making a mistake. I’ll get over it.
I’m afraid you won’t.
So, should we do this proper? Do you have parents I should talk this over with?
Don’t worry about that.
We have one.
Then we must be doing this properly....
Why, whatever for?
Marry me, spirit.
Solomon displays the ring, but he does not place it on Jeannie’s finger. His arm instead goes back, suspended in the air at an uncomfortable angle. Jeannie shoots Genie a look.
I’m not letting him take you!
I’ll pull his arm back.
I’ll pull it from the socket.
Get out of here.
Solomon collapses; Genie has let go.
Don’t do this.
Genie turns away. He stands over Solomon. The King stands.
She loves you.
Too bad. I’ve never had to kill a King before.
Winds rush as Genie extends his fingers and thrusts them into Solomon’s body. Jeannie gasps.
What did you do to him?
Slowly, a wide-eyed Genie backs away from Solomon. As he staggers, his arm can be seen with a lamp on the end of it.
I calmed him down.
And you’re all right?
Perfectly. Let’s get married.
But Solomon, what about—?
He kisses her. They break apart. Solomon takes the ring in one hand and her fingers in the other. He places the ring on her finger.
That wasn’t so bad.
See? Don’t be so violent with my new hus—
Jeannie stops, seeing Genie struggle with the lamp.
He might be stuck.
He bound me! I’m bound to him!
Well...that’s not exactly true. Your friend is bound to the lamp. Consorting with the spirits presents some...theological problems for my people. But if own a lamp—I’m master to a household object—and it just happens to have a genie bound to it, I think I’m OK.
It’s too bad you don’t really have a god, Solomon. He’d damn you for this.
You have no right to speak about my—
A god wouldn’t make such ignorant creatures. And you’re the smartest one. The son of slaves, now the biggest slave owner the world has known, human and otherwise.
I know my history. God’s people will never be slaves again. I can guarantee that. Because my every wish is your command. Get in the lamp.
The lamp jerks further up Genie’s arm. He grabs it and resists.
Don’t fight it, man! It’s no use.
Frantic, Genie puts the lamp down on the carpet, pushing against it.
My friend, it’s time to go.
Give me one honest answer. Do you think she’s beautiful?
Looking at Jeannie:
That’s for her to know.
Solomon pushes Genie into the lamp. Solomon takes it from the carpet, checks its weight, and puts it back into his robe.
What was that?
Magic! Fit a big man in a small space. It helps that you people are wind spirits. You should see what it takes for a spirit of the Earth.
He stops, smiles.
I think it’s time to return to the ground.
What? Explain this to me.
I’m going to the temple. I’m putting your friend to work.
He was right.
He was exaggerating.
No, no; this is slavery!
You don’t know slavery! You’ll never know it! Slavery is human beings. You spirit people—we have the word of God that we can do what we want with you. I don’t feel any different about putting your friend in here than I do of plucking a chicken, harvesting grain: I use the resources God gives me.
I loved you.
Like a dog loves her owner.
You’re not taking him.
I’m done talking about this.
Wind blows as Jeannie jumps on Solomon’s back, hitting him.
Pounding on his back:
Give him back!
I wish you wouldn’t do that.
Jeannie’s hands snap back in the air, as if from hanging shackles.
What do you know; it works.
Solomon, Solomon, how could you?
What works on the lamp works on the ring.
I’m your wife!
Wife? Now, listen—
Solomon grabs Jeannie’s wrist, pulling the ring from her finger.
See this? It’s no wedding ring. It’s nothing!
But you said—
It’s metal. Now it’s your new home.
No...you loved me.
You’re quite a plaything. A favorite toy. Sit down.
Jeannie complies, crying softly.
Your friend asked me if I found you beautiful. You mentioned beauty, too. Is it a thing?
Beauty experts, huh? Hair, makeup?
Oh, that sounds like a more philosophical job.
We found the world’s most beautiful man, and the world’s most beautiful woman.
How about that; good for you. Anybody I know?
It was before your time.
Who were they?
A prince and a princess.
I was a prince. The first prince of my people. Am I beautiful?
I thought so.
I guess if I want a better compliment I’ll have to wish it from you. We’ll do that later.
He looks at her.
I wish to descend now. Slowly.
The carpet begins to descend.
You would have had me without the ring.
Solomon does not respond. He watches the night sky as they descend. The lights fade.
Many years later. A small, humble home in China. Mother sits quietly, sewing a piece of clothing. Loud, triumphant laughter and running can be heard from offstage, getting closer. The door opens and her son, Aladdin, enters the house. His face and shirt are bloody. He closes the door, looks at his mother, and smiles.
I got him, Ma! I got him good!
He goes to Mother and kisses her on the head. She pushes him away.
All the guys saw me do it!
Clean yourself up.
Grabbing a towel:
He’s been at us all month. Doesn’t want us near his store. Says we steal. I say don’t put half your shop in the middle of the road. It’s the road! We can stand anywhere we want.
It’s his fault, Ma. His sign’s right there, so I take it over my knee and smash it in half! He comes out of the store and starts hitting me, so I hit him back!
You fought an old man and you want me to be proud?
I had to, Ma! Besides, it was only a couple of punches before we ran off. And you know why he did it? It’s because of Islam.
Please. Show some respect.
He’s the one who should be showing respect, Ma. He’s prejudiced.
You smashed his sign.
He deserved it.
And you need to learn some humility.
She returns to her sewing. Aladdin paces.
You like Spain, Ma?
Spain. You don’t have to be humble there. You don’t have to be ashamed of your beliefs. An infidel gets in your way—BAM.
If that’s what you think of your faith, I’ve taught you nothing.
You taught me plenty, Ma; it’s the people around here that need to learn.
I’m waiting for you to find a job.
I look, Ma!
I can’t take care of you anymore. Your father is gone. You can’t run in the street your whole life.
I’m young. My friends don’t have jobs.
They have fathers. Ask them for work.
Aw, Ma, I’m not going to beg. I’ll look, OK?
I could sell things, door to door. Sell that guy a new sign right back now that he needs one.
You could work for him.
Work for him? Ma, please. You wouldn’t approve, anyway.
It’s a job.
It’s a magic shop. Traditional Chinese superstition. It’s against what you taught me. Potions? Fortunes? I know better than that.
I didn’t know that. I’m sure it’s less for the sacrilegious than it is for the gullible.
It isn’t right. I’ll burn his place down before I work there. Hit him in the face again. There are things that are real and there are things we can’t accept. We don’t need magic.
A man appears in the doorway. He is an imposing African man who we will come to know as the Magician. He points to Aladdin.
Who is this? What did you do now?
No, it’s fine. More than fine—Aladdin!
The Magician hugs Aladdin closely.
Aladdin, my boy! I’m your uncle!
What? Uncle? How can you be my uncle?
I’m a friend of your husband’s. From long ago. It took me many months to travel here. I heard he was in poor health.
That was true.
I’m sorry. Both of you, left alone like this. He was a generous man. Did he continue to travel?
All the time, until shortly before he passed. He was on the road more often than he was at home. That must be where he knew you from.
Your husband and I were inseparable for a time. I owe him my life many times over.
How does this make you my uncle?
Where are you from?
Originally? Morocco. But I’ve spent a long time traveling. Mecca. Jerusalem. But this is my first time in China. Edge of the Islamic world.
Oh, much different than Spain.
You ever been there?
I have. Very beautiful. If you like stonework.
I keep telling Ma we should go. It’s Muslim.
Parts of it.
And that makes us outsiders here, anyway. So I say we make the Hadj and keep going.
It’s a tough trip. Think of your mother.
Aw, she’s all right. Besides, what does she have here?
Everything. Your plans are nonsense. The boy needs more responsibility.
Is that so?
I got the discipline; it’s only I don’t have the right job. Like that magic shop.
Chinese remedies? The horns of African animals?
It’s all a waste of time.
That’s what I told Ma; there’s no such thing as magic.
I have a job for you.
If Mustafa were here, I would have had business for him.
You need something mended?
No. Your husband and I were a team, of sorts. I’d be willing to take your son on in his place, in a more limited role.
What kind of work?
Digging. It’s not exciting.
I’m sort of an explorer. I want to dig something up. You want to help?
I don’t know.
It’s digging. It’s work and you’ll get paid for it. You can trust me. We’re family.
So what do you say? Tomorrow morning at dawn. We head out and I show you where we dig.
This is what you want me to do, Ma? Become a day laborer?
It’s a first job.
And we’re not digging where my friends’ll see me, right?
Total seclusion. You’ll enjoy the countryside, get out of the city.
I didn’t know you. Like, ten minutes ago.
So—I don’t want to say I don’t trust you. I mean, digging. What’s there to trust?
I’m rushing you—
—You’re confused. It’s fine.
Yeah, but—it would help you out, right?
So, OK. You’re looking for something; I’ll help you out.
You don’t have to.
Don’t worry about it.
Then you’ve got a job.
What do I do?
I’ll come by tomorrow after sunrise.
I need a shovel?
It’s taken care of.
Why not stay?
Here? Thank you; I have accommodations.
For dinner, at least.
If only I could, but there’s so much to prepare. I really do have to go, but I’m so glad to have found you.
See you tomorrow, Uncle.
The Magician nods and exits.
How about that? You got your wish.
I’m glad you’re agreeable now. My wish used to be that you’d learn from your father. Keep his shop in the family.
You’ve said this, Ma. I didn’t want that. I don’t want to be a tailor.
You could have helped your father out, that’s all.
Ma, that wouldn’t be all. You know I pick up a needle and thread and I’ll be doing that my whole life. Die with my arm in a pant leg like Dad!
I’m just saying, I know he traveled and everything, but overall—. I’m not a tailor.
Fine. Go dig your ditch.
It’s one ditch, Ma, not the next 40 years. It’s exploration.
I’m surprised that this is OK with you. You don’t trust my friends and you know their mothers. I get an uncle out of nowhere and you encourage me.
I trust him.
He’s not really my uncle.
He’s a friend of your father. And he’s Muslim.
You’re right. You know, that means a lot more than it should around here. But he’s Muslim. He’s family. And he’s got an opportunity.
Aladdin, you’re growing up. You’re almost grown. You need to plan your future.
I don’t know, Ma. Any future I have, I don’t know I’d want it to look much different than this.
You have dinner to prepare.
Lights fade on Aladdin’s house and rise on the Magician. He reclines in bed, regarding a ring he holds.
A Prince and a Princess. Tell me how you found them.
Lights up on Jeannie, preparing the expedition tools.
We were air spirits. We traveled. Anywhere the wind would carry us.
And so you just picked them up, and that’s when you—?
I found the Prince. He had been locked in a tower by his father. The boy refused to marry, so...that’s what kings did then. I saw him sleeping through a window, high above the city. He was the most beautiful person I had ever seen.
So your friend, he found the girl.
It was under almost the same circumstances. He had made a trip to China, spotted her through a palace window. She also refused to marry. I found my friend, and we told each other we had found the most beautiful human beings on earth. We argued: of course my prince was more beautiful than his princess. We argued for a long time; I began to doubt this understanding of true beauty.
You’re the greater expert, I can tell.
I said as much. But we spoke to a third friend instead. He suggested a wager.
What do you wager for beauty?
Put that down. I’ll pack the rest.
Jeannie stands and backs away.
Ah, beauty. Of course you’re an expert.
I wanted to thank you.
You’re welcome. What am I being thanked for?
For being my master and knowing it. You don’t call yourself my husband. You don’t pretend this relationship is any different than it is.
What a strange compliment.
Prior masters have fallen in love with me.
They treated me as a husband would a wife.
We’ve done that.
They did in ways that made me love them back.
It all sounds sweet to me.
It was. Until they remembered I was in chains. And they held the other end.
Oh, I’ve never forgotten that.
I know. Thank you.
Though I notice a bit of self-interest in your compliment. The previous masters you’ve seduced—I’m sure they fell sincerely, deeply in love with you. But I’d guess most of them were amateurs. Wide-eyed travelers who didn’t know what it meant to command a wind spirit. But now you’ve found a magician, and I know exactly what I’ve got.
He finishes packing.
You know I liked you when I found you? I admired you. Despite your limitations. Other spirits are said to move entire villages overnight. You move buildings brick by brick over the course of weeks. I see the pyramids. I want to take one. You say it’s too heavy. You’re not a very good genie.
I was good at beauty.
I can get that anywhere. Power—power of strength, power of authority—that’s what I need. That’s what I’m good at. And that’s what we’re going for tomorrow.
A new toy. Left there by a former magician.
You could be chasing a lie.
Oh, not likely. This man was a Christian. Or, about as Christian as I’m Muslim. He had to answer to his Inquisition. He had to renounce the magic he knew and embrace his church and his God. Had to.
I know their methods. Any spirit could have freed him.
I’m not sure if he was in the right state of mind to command it. Instead, he bargained. He testified. He buried his black magic at the other end of the world to appease the holy court. It wasn’t enough.
The Inquisition keeps excellent records. I found his testimony and will soon find his former servant. Then I don’t know what I’ll do with you.
Men always want the next rung up the ladder. I have given you so much. You think you’ll get more.
I know I will. You’re looking at a future king.
I’ve seen kings before.
Yes, but you’re no good at making them.
I’m sure I don’t hold a very high rank among your masters.
You don’t have to say it again.
That you’re not in love with me.
The Magician stops, flustered.
I wonder how you’ll treat your next master.
I didn’t particularly want one.
And who wants you? I’m not sure if I want a new servant as much as I want to be rid of the one I have.
Exactly. If I’m worthless as a commodity there’s only one thing to do.
Bury the ring?
That takes more than a wish.
It takes magic! You have magic! You can unbind me!
Let a wind spirit free. Following me, out for my blood.
Is that what you think of me?
I value my well-being over your free will. Funny how that works out.
I hate you.
I hate you so much.
I know you do. Take off your clothes.
Wounded, Jeannie begins to disrobe. The lights crossfade with Aladdin in a forest. He shovels dirt from a knee-deep hole. The Magician brings the gear closer to the hole and inspects it. He hands Aladdin a flask of water.
This can’t be it.
Check your map; this can’t be the right spot.
Keep digging. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
All right, but I’m sure this is dirt that hasn’t been touched in years.
Who says we’re looking for something buried recently?
You’re a real live treasure hunter, huh?
Not much of an uncle, though.
All I’m saying, if you were, you’d have shown up for a visit a whole lot sooner. You know, if you were such a friend of my dad, you would have seen him.
I thought your father had years left in him.
Yeah, you hear my mother talk I took them all away.
You’re a rotten kid, huh?
You’re digging for me. You’re not all bad.
Yeah, all right.
You’ll see. You’ll turn out OK.
Hey, give me the pickaxe. I hit another rock.
He hands Aladdin a pickaxe.
Another rock, huh?
I don’t want to say anything, but no matter how long ago you bury something, you usually don’t roll boulders on top.
It keeps it hidden.
Yeah, but you’d need at least half a dozen guys digging the path, pushing the boulder. Six guys don’t keep a secret for long. Not this long.
What if I told you that this was all done by one man?
You want to tell me something, Uncle, you tell me what we’re digging for.
You want to know?
I’ve wanted to know. You said you’d tell me when we came out here.
Fair enough. We’re here for evidence.
Like, of crime?
Of a man. A powerful man who could have been even more powerful. While traveling, I’ve met people who spoke of him with reverence, many more who’ve hated him, and even more who didn’t believe he ever existed. At least not in the way he was said to exist.
So we might not find anything.
I’m sure we’ll find quite a bit. For example....
The Magician shuffles through some papers.
An underground garden of jeweled trees, fatal to the touch. A cavern which gives no echo. And in the center of everything—the evidence.
I think so.
Needs something like a witch or a princess though. To make it more authentic.
A woman’s touch. Believe me, this story has had enough of that already.
Aladdin returns to digging.
Have you ever been in love, Aladdin?
You know how young I am. Even my mother isn’t on me about that yet.
People get married at your age.
Not anybody I know. Why, you have some relationship problem?
I’m in love.
That’s a problem already.
And it’s with the wrong girl.
This is nothing new.
I’m going to have to send her away.
Have to? People get married at your age.
Not to a girl like this.
This girl knows you love her?
And she loves you back.
No. But I could have convinced her.
Of course you could have.
If I did something for her when I first met her, she would have loved me. I would have changed her life. But now, I’ve made her hate me.
This girl; she’s beautiful?
She’s an expert.
Yeah, well I’m not. I don’t know what you’re talking about girl stuff with me for.
You need to fall in love, Aladdin. It’s good for the heart. Until it kills you. Or drives you mad.
I’ll take my time.
Aladdin grabs the pickaxe again.
So, do you want to tell me what evidence I’m looking for so I don’t break it apart?
Oh, there will be a number of amazing trinkets. Gold crosses—
—arcane texts. And if we’re really lucky, we’ll find a lamp.
Trinkets are trinkets, but if we find a lamp underneath all this dirt, there’s no way to deny what this man has done. You’ll find out when we see it.
I thought you said this would be exciting—
And with a final swing, the ground Aladdin stands upon breaks away, bringing him underground. Amid the dust, light shines from below.
He runs to the opening.
Aladdin! Can you hear me?
Yeah! I’m all right.
Oh, praise God. Aladdin, Nephew, you did it. This is what we’re looking for. I’m going to send down a torch.
No, no need. It’s lit.
Underground? What do you see?
Trees. Trees with glowing fruit.
Aladdin, Aladdin, I want you to listen. Those are the fatal jewels. Don’t go near them. Don’t touch anything. Only the lamp. Anything else may be a trap. Do you see the lamp?
It’s just trees.
No, impossible. He described it so clearly. It should be directly underneath.
I don’t know. It might be down this passage.
From here it looks like a dead end.
It is. There’s nothing there.
I’m going to check it out.
Aladdin leaves. The Magician shakes his head. He looks at his hand. And looks. Unreadable, he removes the ring from his finger and drops it into the hole. He picks up the shovel. He scoops a mound of dirt and begins to fill the hole. Then another. And another. He shovels furiously as the lights fade. Jeannie enters from one side, carrying a sleeping Aladdin. Or someone who looks very much like Aladdin, with a crown on his head. From the other side of the stage, Genie enters, carrying a similarly unconscious Princess. Jeannie and Genie stare at each other.
Side by side?
Side by side.
The spirits carry this Prince and Princess closer together. They observe the pair. In silence, they carry them offstage. As lights fade, shovelfuls of dirt begin to fall on the other side of the stage. Lights rise on an underground garden of jewels. Upstage is a desk with a messy pile of papers. A crownless Aladdin returns, having run to the far end of the garden. The shovelfuls continue.
There’s nothing down the path. It’s a dead end.
He sees the dirt fall.
What’s this? Uncle, you want to throw down a rope—?
Suddenly, the sound of a cave-in. The light from above disappears and a larger, final pile of dirt falls from above. The rumbling stops. Aladdin looks up.
Uncle, what did you do?
Are you up there? Can you hear me?
Silence. To himself:
Aladdin looks around. He sees the ring on the ground. He picks it up, looks around, and puts it on his finger. He sees the desk and approaches it. He looks at one of the papers.
Somebody was drawing himself a castle....
As he puts the diagram back on the desk, he sees the lamp, no longer hidden by the papers.
No. This can’t be it. It’s just here....
He looks around. Everything else is jewels. He carefully picks up the lamp and studies it.
It’s office supplies....
He puts the lamp into his bag and continues to sort through the desk.
Nothing here is going to get me out of here....
He abandons the desk and looks around.
Maybe I can climb? But do any of these trees go high enough if I chop them down and bring them— Chop them with what? Oh, God....
Oh, God. I’m gonna die here.
He begins to tear up.
I’m not ready. Oh, God. I need to pray....
Aladdin bends down and begins to rub his hands with dirt. As his hands brush over his ring, he begins to be surrounded by smoke. Aladdin does not notice; he closes his eyes and prays silently. Out of the smoke steps Jeannie.
She looks at Aladdin.
A new master. He’s so young. He looks like—
Aladdin’s eyes snap open.
Where did you come from? Who are you?
He looks back.
Is that your desk?
It’s not my desk.
I thought I was alone down here.
Down here? So we’re underground.
Yeah we’re underground. How did you get down here?
You summoned me.
Summoned? No, I was too busy on my hands and knees—
He looks at her carefully.
No. You can’t be. That’s not how angels work.
You think I’m an angel?
You can’t be. I mean, I prayed. I needed help.
I can help you.
No, you see that’s not how God works. He answers prayers, but not so directly. He’d never hear me, put an angel in front of me, and help me out. All at once. Would he?
I wouldn’t know, Master.
What are you?
A spirit of the wind.
No; uh uh.
There’s no such thing. I can’t believe you.
I’ve said much the same thing about your God.
You serve the Devil!
I serve only one person, the man who wears the ring.
Aladdin looks at his hand.
No. I won’t fall for your tricks. I’m not making a deal with you. I’d rather die!
You want to serve me? Do great things for me? All I have to do is sign over my soul, right?
My blood for ink; that’s how it goes, right?
Not at all. That ring—whoever owns it owns me, too. If you have a soul, you get to keep it.
Aladdin considers this.
I think this ring came from up there.
This ring was my uncle’s.
He willed it to you?
He trapped me. He lured me down here to kill me.
And he gave you the ring?
He said he was sending me down here to—
Aladdin stops himself. He looks at Jeannie.
Master, don’t frown like that. Your face is too beautiful.
I’ve seen it before.
Looks away, waving his hand.
I still don’t trust you.
Why should you?
You’re part of this ring?
I’m bound to it.
Because your people don’t consider me one of God’s creatures.
Who wants a spirit in a ring, anyway?
Too many men.
It’s because you’re powerful, right? Strength of ten men.
I don’t have the strength of ten men.
Then what do you do?
I’m a spirit of the air. I can influence the winds and weather. I can take you anywhere. Anything you want I can pluck it from the air.
You want to tempt me?
I’m just the servant. Masters discover temptation on their own.
So if you do wind, let’s see some wind.
Knock those jewels off the branches.
As you wish.
Jeannie summons a gust of wind, shaking the branches of a nearby jewel tree and sending its fruit spilling to the ground. Aladdin looks at the pile of jewels. After a half-beat, he rushes over and begins pocketing the jewels.
Nah, this is rent, debt, and a day’s work. That’s all I need now. Actually, I don’t know how much any of this stuff is worth. But when it’s growing on trees, huh?
And you can take me anywhere, right? Like out of here.
All right, OK. This might work out. Let me take these jewels and then I want you to—
Fumbling with a bag for the jewels, the lamp falls out. Jeannie’s eyes go wide.
Oh, look at that....
This? Office supplies.
May I see it?
Aladdin picks up the lamp. He considers.
No.... It’s important. It proves something.
I was only going to say—
It looks familiar.
See, I don’t know if that ends up being a good thing or a bad thing.
It would be a very good thing. If it was more than just a lamp.
That’s all it is; sorry.
So, spirit, you can get me out of here?
Because you’re an air spirit. I don’t know what that means for moving rocks.
I can do it.
All you have to do is command it.
All right. Get us out of here.
Jeannie walks past Aladdin to the landslide. He grabs her arm.
Today was my first day ever working.
The jewels are a nice payday.
Too nice. I don’t want to be your master.
You say that now.
No, I mean it.
You already made a wish. Cover your eyes.
The cave begins to swirl with dust. Aladdin ducks, while Jeannie stands motionless, concentrating. The stage darkens, expect for a growing beam of light from the surface above. The wind continues as the lights fade. Spotlight on the Wazir’s Son—a suitor to the Princess.
To his majesty, the Emperor of China. Your majesty, as you know, your daughter is beautiful. The most beautiful woman in China. The most beautiful woman in the world. This being the case, I agree wholeheartedly with your decision in never allowing the public to see her. Young men like myself—young men like our street rabble would go mad with passion on first sight of her. Productivity in the Empire would plummet. Marriage rates would hit the floor. Men would ask for the unattainable. Wish in vain for her heavenly presence. Nothing else would matter. But, as Emperor, you are wise not to let this happen. No, you surrounded your daughter with only handmaidens, members of the court, and eunuchs. And I am glad to be counted among that number. As a member of the court. I hope I’m not overstepping my bounds. It’s my father who serves as your advisor, not me. But as the advisor’s son, as your humble subject, I want only to acknowledge your wise handling of your daughter’s upbringing. And to ask for her hand in— To ask your permission for— To humbly, humbly, humbly—
He stops, short of breath.
The spotlight fades on the Wazir’s Son. The wind again howls, and lights come up dimply for night. Aladdin drops back into his kitchen. He takes two steps and collapses on the floor. Jeannie follows.
Anything else, Master?
Get lost. Go back to the ring.
As you wish.
Jeannie fades into a cloud of smoke. Aladdin picks up the still-smoking ring and looks at it, disgusted. He throws the ring across the kitchen. It disappears underneath a cabinet. Aladdin pulls himself up and retrieves the jewels from his bag. He then pulls out the lamp. He examines it.
Not worth it.... Absolutely not worth it.
Aladdin puts down the lamp and collapses once more. But he has rubbed the lamp. It begins to smoke, and from it appears Genie. He takes in his surroundings, then takes a few steps to Aladdin.
Without looking up:
Can I have something to eat?
Aladdin’s head snaps up as wind begins to rush. Lights come up full, revealing a huge banquet. Lights then fade completely. A beat, then the light of a new day rises on one part of the stage. Aladdin enters the light, carrying a few golden serving trays. He is followed by Genie. They are surrounded by the sounds of a marketplace. Aladdin turns to Genie and stares at him intently.
This was an accident.
I could have gotten food myself. I didn’t need a spirit for that.
But you asked.
Lifting the trays:
And what are all these? That’s insane; you really thought I needed to eat off of gold?
Prior masters have requested to.
You spoiled me. That’s what you do. Lead us astray. Tempt us. It makes me sick.
I’m sorry, Master.
I don’t need to be spoiled.
I figure the first time, that was an emergency. I was trapped. The second time was an accident. And it was just food....
What first time?
You only wished once.
Aladdin glares at him.
You’re giving me that look.
I knew someone like you once.
I know the routine.
Do you want me to go back to the house? Take the food away?
I want nothing from you. One wish is enough. We’ll eat the food and get rid of the trays and utensils by selling them. Like normal people.
We don’t need your gold. We don’t need your tricks. I won’t let you corrupt me.
Master. Don’t frown like that.
It’s all the same lies, isn’t it? Look, you’re not going to show me anything that’s going to make me want your power. I’m not going to fall into your trap.
I understand, Master.
I don’t know why everyone’s crowded around like this. Let’s cut down that way.
You know what? I don’t need you at all for this. Get back in the lamp.
As you wish.
Smoke crosses the stage, obscuring Aladdin and Genie. Once it passes, Genie has disappeared. But someone else appears—the Princess is now visible on the other side of the stage. Aladdin sees her and stops. They look at each other. Everything disappears except for the couple. Lights rise on the kitchen. Mother enters slowly, absentmindedly grabbing a pastry from one of the remaining trays. Aladdin stumbles downstage to the kitchen, still staring at the Princess. He reaches his Mother.
He kisses her on the forehead. He puts a bag of coins into her hand. The Princess is still spotlighted.
Take this. It’s for the trays. I sold them.
We don’t need all this food.
You’re right, Ma; you’re right.
You were celebrating your first day of work?
Now I have a whole new reason to celebrate. Ma, I saw the girl of my dreams.
I’m in love!
Mother eyes Aladdin and takes a bite of her pastry. He looks at the Princess.
I got lost; I was going the wrong way. I was looking at her....
It was just like you always hear about.
The Princess’s spotlight goes out.
Then her guards hit me and threw me back into the street.
She’s a Princess.
I’m sure she’s very nice.
Ma, she’s the Princess. The Emperor’s daughter.
This is big, Ma; this is serious. I have to marry her.
How will you marry a Princess?
I thought about that.
You’re not royalty.
I wasn’t going to let them know that.
Is this because of your uncle?
Uncle? No. Has he been back?
I haven’t seen him.
You know what? In a way he has helped me out. You’re going to help me, too.
Is that what you think?
Oh, you’ve got to, Ma. You just have to. You’ve got to go to the Emperor.
You’re the parents; you’ve got to ask on my behalf. You arrange it.
I can’t go to the Palace. I’ve never been to the Palace.
It’s OK, Ma.
I barely leave the house!
Fumbling with his bag, taking out the lamp and putting it aside:
It’s OK, Ma. Here’s what we’re gonna do. You’re going to go out, take that money we earned from the dishes, and you’re going to go out and buy yourself the best dress you can find. Then, you’re going to take these....
He uncovers the sack and reveals the gemstones.
This is what me and my uncle found in the cave. What we’re gonna do with it is make it a gift for the Emperor. A tribute. It proves we’re serious. It proves I can handle a Princess.
And I can, Ma. This can work.
Don’t worry, Ma; go out and get yourself something nice.
Last week you never had a job.
And next week I’ll have a Princess.
He hands her the jewels. She takes them, gives her son a look, and exits. Aladdin watches her go. After a moment, Genie enters.
I sold the plates. I saw the Princess. And I’ll win her.
It’s so easy, isn’t it?
You’ve never been in love, have you?
Is that what you think?
You’d know. Trust me. More than anything you’d know.
He gets up and starts to exit. He looks at Genie.
You stay put.
Lights fade on the kitchen. Spotlight on the Wazir’s Son and the Princess. They sit, the Princess facing out and the Wazir’s Son staring at her. After a moment, the Princess exits. The Wazir’s Son watches her go, takes a deep breath, then:
In one breath:
Your highness I humbly request the hand of your daughter in the bonds of holy matrimony.
I said it. I can do this.
He starts offstage, but stops himself.
“...request the hand of your daughter in the bonds...?” Is that too forceful? No.... No, I have to be forceful. I have to be a husband. Bound. Bound to me. My wife; my possession. Your highness, I must have the hand of your daughter in the bonds of holy matrimony! OK! I’m ready! I—
Aladdin’s Mother has entered.
This is a private antechamber.
The Emperor’s; yes.
You want an audience with the Emperor? Ma’am?
Let me tell you, his royal omnipotence is incredibly busy. May I ask what your visit concerns?
Marriage? Find a judge.
For his daughter.
His daughter? Not the Princess.
Yes. My son sent me to arrange things with the Emperor—
—make it official. Yes.
He would never. The Princess hasn’t seen another man.
My son met her.
Fantasy! Ma’am, your story is unbelievable. It’s a waste of my time and would be the same for the Emperor. I’m sorry, but I cannot allow you the meeting.
But I’ve had the meeting.
He said yes.
She exits and the lights fade. Lights again rise on the kitchen. Genie sits. Aladdin stands in front of him. Reluctantly, Aladdin hands him a list. Genie scans the list.
Forty white slave girls....
You can read it quiet.
And forty black eunuchs! There’s a chore....
I know, all right? Don’t think I didn’t try to do this myself.
I would never doubt you.
Though I would have loved to see your efforts. Running across the city, trying to find foreign slaves as if they were loose change.
It’s not funny.
This is a tall order, even for a conquering warrior prince, or whatever lies your mother told about you.
This is what the Emperor wants.
It’s extortion. It’s the bride’s father that pays the dowry.
The way I figure it, the Emperor thinks that if I can provide him with servants, then I can provide his daughter with the armies to protect her. Something along those lines.
He wants you to spoil her.
Something like that, yeah.
And this you wanted to do as a tailor’s son.
It’s who I am.
And every good boy deserves a Princess.
We deserve each other.
Let’s hear her say that. You’re far outside anything she knows.
I’m an outsider, period. You think anyone here respects God? The Prophet? A girl on the next block is just as different to me as the Princess. I’ve got a line to cross anyway.
And slaves to collect.
Even talking to you is crossing a line. It’s blasphemy.
But you won’t get a Princess without me. I’m always amazed by you monotheists. I’m sitting in front of you and I’m less real to you than God. Your imagination.
Wait until you’re as old as I am, then give it another thought.
Can you do it?
Eighty slaves? I can.
I thought you just carried things on the wind. How can you just find slaves?
Shipwrecks, fading empires. There are ways.
And you can make me their master?
You should be used to it.
Yeah, you’d like that.
So this list, this is your wish?
You want to gloat? You want me to admit you’ve won? Well you’ve won.
I’m still the guy in chains.
And what happens to this soul you think you have?
What happens to it without her?
I hope she’s worth it.
Aladdin! The wedding.
It’s on, Mom. Tomorrow morning the Emperor will get his request.
But the wedding’s today!
The Princess. She’s marrying someone else!
Don’t worry, Mom. How can there be a wedding? You were just there the other day.
It was all of a sudden. I heard celebration at the palace. She’s marrying the son of someone in the court.
The Emperor took your gift. He was impressed! And he asked for more. Why would he change his mind?
Inside pressure. A rich stranger’s mother shows up and suddenly they have to make a move.
I tried getting in the palace, but it’s closed off. By now the wedding might be over. I’m sorry, Aladdin.
You’ll find another Princess.
She exits. Aladdin turns to Genie.
She can’t love him.
Who needs love?
She’s mine! I can’t lose her.
You have; wedding’s over.
Not the wedding night. I can’t let him touch her. I’ve got to get to the palace. I’ll sneak in—
I’ll get past them. I’ll make my way to their chambers—
That’s not important. I’ll get to her chambers and throw her husband off the balcony.
In front of the Princess.
She’ll still love me.
You met this Princess just once, right?
All I needed.
And what did you say to each other?
Nothing. Eye contact. That’s all we had.
For eye contact, you’re meant to be.
I have to go.
Have fun murdering.
All right, Spirit. What do you suggest?
It’s time for a wish. And not the slaves, either.
So you want to kill the groom?
I had something else in mind.
What? Tell me; I’ll do it.
It’s not something for you to do, Master. You have to let me do my work.
No, no. Up until now, I did it all myself.
With the jewels I gave my former master. And the finery I set on your table. You’ve been caught up with me since you first picked up my lamp.
It’s a deal with the Devil.
You’d think so. Awfully convenient for you, your God. You credit him with all these powers. But those of us that can actually do what you call miracles—we’re devils.
And it’s so sweet that you can live in a nation of infidels, spend your entire life here—fall in love with a heathen—
You shut up!
Genie, now unable to speak, smiles and bows. A beat.
What are you doing?
Are you doing that because I asked or because—I commanded?
You can speak.
You’re the Master.
This is wrong.
It’s very wrong. I shouldn’t spend eternity inside a lamp.
You’re tempting me.
I’m laying out the facts. Wealth, slaves—they’re nothing to me. But they seem to be everything to the in-laws. You’ve already commanded me to grant a few of your wishes.
I’ve already sold my soul.
I think you’re the first of my masters to have a soul to begin with. And you’re doing this for love. Your soul’s just fine. Are you royalty?
Are you kidding?
You are royalty. If you want to be. It’s all in how you present yourself, in how you think about your place in the world. You need to stop thinking of yourself as a child. Start thinking of yourself as someone who commands an army. Because you do.
You can get her?
I think so.
You can break up this marriage?
You want me to do it?
As you wish.
And the list.
For the Emperor.
I will obey.
So...what are you going to do?
Your competitor is going to come here. Then we’re going to talk.
Wait until tonight.
Lights fade as the sun sets. It is a calm night outside. Until the wind brings the Princess’s bed through the window. She and the Wazir’s Son are dressed for bed. As the bed lands in the kitchen, Genie grabs the Wazir’s Son, pinning him to the wall. The bed comes to a stop, whirling the Princess so she is face to face with Aladdin.
I’ve seen you before. What are you doing in my bedroom?
Smiles, looks around:
Who are you?
The boy of your dreams. So dream.
Aladdin nods at Genie. Genie extends an arm and blows around the Princess. She falls asleep. Aladdin looks at her.
Like an angel.
He turns to the Wazir’s Son.
You won’t disturb that. She isn’t yours.
The Wazir’s Son struggles.
You won’t touch her. You’re going to her father tomorrow morning to call things off.
Then we’ll do this again tomorrow. Same thing every night.
You took her from me! I had her hand. Your marriage came in the middle of that. It has no validity.
Validity? Who are you? You came from nowhere. You bring your thugs—kidnap royalty. You think that’s legitimate? Where are we, anyway?
Someplace you’ll never be found.
This isn’t convincing. Threats—you’re threatening—I wouldn’t trust you with my wife. I have to protect her.
Genie flips the Wazir’s Son upside-down on the wall.
Protect her? Look at you.
You’re the one that needs hired muscle. If you didn’t have this guy I could take you.
But I have this guy. He’s useful.
Genie drops the Wazir’s Son.
Let’s hear you say it.
The Wazir’s Son gives no response.
The marriage was a mistake. You’re calling it off.
The Wazir’s Son sits up. Suddenly, he makes a dash for the Princess. Aladdin swats him down with the flat end of a sword. The Wazir’s Son freezes.
Touch her and you die.
I’d die in her arms.
You’d be dead before you reached them. Don’t get blood on my bride.
Aladdin leads the Wazir’s Son away from the Princess with the sword.
You live in the palace?
Again, the Wazir’s Son doesn’t respond.
You grew up there. You’ve watched the Princess grow up. She became a woman when you became a man. Together. You’ve seen her. And you’ve never seen anything special.
I believe in love at first sight. I only believe in love at first sight! The Princess and I have it. You don’t.
Convenient of you to say so.
True love is right away. True love doesn’t wait for somebody else to propose. True love knows.
True love carries a sword.
Genie claps a hand on the Wazir’s Son’s shoulder.
You love her?
Would you rather die than lose her?
I...haven’t thought about it.
He needs time to think.
Aladdin nods. Genie pats the bed.
To the Wazir’s Son:
He complies. He looks at the Princess, then Genie.
Wind rushes as the bed ascends and flies out of the kitchen. Lights fade. Spotlight on the Magician. He is alone, drinking.
Two genies. Air spirits. One powerful male. One enchanting female. Both claim to have found the most beautiful human beings on earth. They each wager their freedom to each other. If she’s right, she wins him. If not, he wins her. The test: love at first sight. They place the beauties next to each other. Whichever one falls in love first loses.
That’s how it is, right?
Who won? I forget who she said. They canceled the wager, I know that. But she didn’t talk about her beautiful prince and his beautiful princess. Their test subjects, human beings who fell in love with each other. What happened to them? Because love at first sight is more than a dream. They wouldn’t let it go. They’d do anything to find each other.
A student of beauty, and she didn’t give any thought to true love. I like to think they found each other.
Spotlight slowly rises on Aladdin and the Princess, in wedding garments. They kiss.
If it was true love, I’d like to think they married and had many beautiful babies.
Lights fade on the couple.
I never should have thrown her away.
He takes another drink as his spotlight fades. Lights up on a desert island. Waves crash—there is nothing in sight but sunlight, sand, and vegetation. Suddenly, an Astronaut stumbles over the dune, overheated and exhausted. He makes it to center and collapses. Flat on the sand, he notices something. He begins to dig. After a moment, the Astronaut finds something in the sand and holds it up—a bottle. Lights fade. End of Act I.
A band of light from one side of the stage to another. A cart begins a path across the stage, pushed by the Magician. The cart is filled with metal and silver objects—mostly lamps.
Illumination! The sun gives it to you all day, every day. But every night, the sun goes down. What do you do then? If you don’t have a lamp, you’re out of luck! You sit in the dark. You want a lamp. I’ll sell you a lamp. You already have a lamp? Trade it for a new one! New lamps for old! Can’t beat that! We’re all looking for our own light in the dark. I’ve got yours. Illumination!
The Magician exits and the stage goes dark. Suddenly—distant rumbling. The sky brightens and a column of smoke fills the background. Lights up full reveal Jeannie—now in twentieth century fashion—standing with an Air Force Major. This is the Astronaut from the previous act. They stand on a picnic blanket, staring into the distance at the smoke. As the rumbling subsides, Jeannie turns to the Major.
The Major turns to Jeannie. He kisses her.
It always is. I was afraid you might not like it.
Oh, master, why wouldn’t I like the launch?
Look at the smoke. Our rocket has burned a black line onto a blue sky. We’re intruding. That’s where your winds are.
And it’s such a nice sky.
The winds aren’t as fragile as you make them sound, master. Already they’re breaking your black line apart.
Fair enough. The sky is beautiful on its own.
The Major sits on the blanket, bringing Jeannie to the ground with him.
What’s it like up there?
You’re asking me this?
You’re an astronaut; I’m not.
You’ve been high into the atmosphere. Repeatedly.
But you’ve been higher. What’s space like?
It’s just like where you’ve been. Just up.
You’ve seen the entire earth in one glance. You’ve watched the sun rise and set in ways I’ll never see.
I’ve also crashed.
Isn’t that an American tradition? Getting into a wreck now and then?
Not with taxpayer dollars.
Oh, nonsense. Besides, that was years ago.
Over five years ago.
Five years. We didn’t celebrate.
Missed our anniversary.
Oh, master, it is an anniversary. We need to do something.
We can go back to the island where we met.
Master, I don’t ever want to go back there.
Or we could go into orbit.
There’s no wind up there for me.
NASA’s always recruiting.
It’s supposed to be a celebration! We shouldn’t be working. How many geishas should we have?
Now, Jeannie, for you that’s working.
Oh, it isn’t; not really.
It’s enough; I don’t want to spend an evening wishing up servants or travel plans or anything like that, and I don’t want you to feel like that’s what you have to do for me. You already tried to take me skiing Friday.
It would have been wonderful. You wanted it.
I don’t think you can read my mind as well as you think.
I’m not mind reading. It’s January; you told me you were tired of Florida, of so many Januarys without snow.
Jeannie, there’s what I say, and what I want.
So I’ve learned. Well, five years. What do you want for it?
I will pick up a phone and call a restaurant. You will wear your new dress. We will have a pleasant dinner.
It sounds magical.
You’re so clever....
The Major moves to kiss Jeannie. She stops him.
Can we help you?
A quick look around, then, to Jeannie:
After a moment, an Air Force Lieutenant takes a step onto the stage. The Major and Jeannie rise from the blanket.
Major; I thought that was you. I couldn’t tell all the way from the viewing platform. What brings you out here?
They shake hands.
The view’s better. Lieutenant, have you met Jeannie?
I haven’t. It’s nice to meet you.
You work with the Major?
Not enough. We’ve been on separate assignments for a while now. Not since you played Robinson Crusoe, in fact!
Jeannie, do you know this story? His rocket failed. The Major never made it into orbit. He dropped into the ocean—onto a desert island. And he made it back in one piece. Amazing.
I know the story.
Oh, right; if I were the Major I’d tell it, too.
Telling it is fine. I’d rather not relive it, though.
Understandably, sir. Still, it gives me confidence.
Yes, sir. But also in humanity. We aim for the stars, and even when we miss, we get right back up. You’ve been back into space since then, haven’t you?
Yes; several times.
There you go. You, Major, are proof of accomplishment. That humanity has grown up.
The Lieutenant looks at Jeannie.
I’m sorry; I’m rambling on so much....
He takes off his hat and holds it with both hands.
It’s a nice thought.
A lot of pressure on me, though.
You can take it.
I’m glad I met you here, Major. What are you working on right now?
Oh, very much in addition to it. The Doctor tells me you’ve got quite a few secrets you’re not sharing.
Lieutenant, look at this sky. We just removed three men from this Earth. They’ll be back, but right now we don’t share a planet with them. We don’t even share a sky; they’re somewhere beyond this gorgeous Florida weather.
He approaches the Lieutenant.
The Doctor has a conspiratorial mind. He can’t help it. Any real secrets I have are part of the same chain of command he follows. And you as well.
I understand completely, Major.
Let’s talk about something else.
How about gorgeous Florida weather?
There’s a reason we don’t launch spacecraft from North Dakota.
Seventy degrees in January. We’re spoiled. It’s been like this all week, hasn’t it?
Except for Friday, I think. What was the weather that day?
It’s a good guess.
It was sunny. Mostly.
No; that’s not what I mean.
With a hand to her mouth:
The Major and Lieutenant both give Jeannie looks.
I was driving the Doctor home; he lives on your block, Major. And we saw snow. A full snowstorm, falling only on your front lawn.
I asked the Doctor what that was. He thought you might have an explanation.
Explanation? I didn’t even see it happen. I don’t think something like that is even possible.
If you move enough wet air into cold air—and you can make sure it stays below freezing all the way down—you can make it snow almost anywhere.
I wouldn’t know. I don’t know the recipe.
Major, I think you do.
What does that—?
I think you can control the weather. I think you can make it snow in Florida.
Is that what you came out here for? Did the Doctor send you?
When you take the Doctor’s word on something, you have to know his opinion of me. He’s questioned me too many times—
Major, this isn’t about the Doctor. It’s about my wife.
I thought it was about snow.
My wife grew up in China. Not too far from the capital, but still in a village. Her brother is a farmer. They’re going through a terrible drought right now, Major. Crops are dying. People are starving. Mandy has been a wreck.
When I saw your house, I—I don’t know what I was thinking. I thought you might be able to help him. Change the weather for him.
Nobody can change the weather.
I thought, “Air Force, NASA—maybe the Major has something....” I’m sorry.
I saw what I wanted to see. And I dragged you into it.
It’s OK, Lieutenant. I wish I could help.
To the Lieutenant:
Your wife’s village; it’s near Beijing?
About fifty miles to the west, yeah.
I’m sorry, did I ask for something?
I thought so.
Is that really the best thing to do?
It’s already done.
A thunderclap and the beginning of a major rainstorm. The three look up.
Gorgeous Florida weather.
Lights fade. Spotlight on a doorway. The Magician pulls a tarp over his cart of lamps, fighting the wind and rain.
All right, all right. So much metal. So much potential rust. Stay covered; I don’t want to lose my stock.
A light appears in a nearby window. The Magician stops. The Princess steps through the door, carrying the lamp.
Business is outstanding. If you’re the guy selling tarps.
Or umbrellas. You’re in the wrong kind of work.
I like it.
What’s the merchandise? What are you covering up?
Not the best weather for those right now.
I like them. Lamps are bright. More than that. They provide style, decoration, sentimentality.
I didn’t know you could sell sentiment.
I sell the seeds. Light is a necessity; part of our diet. We consume it just like food and water. So why not consume something fine? Something special. Something that comforts you.
That’s quite a sales pitch.
You live at the palace.
It’s a good example. This palace went up overnight.
Literally. Built in a day. Believe me, I paid attention.
It was fast—
—I’ll give you that.
You haven’t lived here long. No one has. An overnight palace has no age. It has no history, no style.
Is that a problem?
Only at first. You have to let it develop its style.
Plant the seeds of sentimentality.
The seeds you sell.
Of course. And thank you. I’m a businessman and you’re treating me like one. I like that respect. Now, the lamp you’re carrying—what’s that to you?
I’ve wondered if it’s something to my husband.
He keeps it unlit. There’s never a wick or oil in it unless I fill it. I’m careful with it; I only touch it by the handle.
You think you should protect it?
I think it might fall apart. My husband doesn’t really touch it at all. Yet he keeps it at his bedside.
Not so old it’s an antique. I don’t think it means anything. But I have a guess.
The Magician gives her a look: continue.
My husband has an appreciation for the poor. He goes places. I think he may have grown up poor.
So he may associate the lamp with a lost childhood. Junk in the palace.
He might. I don’t know. I don’t know enough about him.
But you love him?
He’s the most beautiful boy in the world.
So now we have three possibilities. Three ways of thinking about this lamp. One, the lamp is something your husband cares about. Something that connects him to a poor past.
Yes; I don’t know.
Two, it’s just an old, overlooked, barely usable lamp. It showed up in your bedroom and that’s it.
Producing another lamp:
Three, you trade it in for a new lamp. One without a history. Let it grow up in a new palace that will gain new memories.
Also, you’re married. This is sentimental to him.
I don’t even know if it is.
Right; it might be a hidden history, or it’s nothing at all. Either way it’s not yours. A new lamp belongs to the both of you.
It’s the hard sell; I’m sorry. Please, you can slam the door in my face—
No. No. I’ll make the trade. A new lamp for this one.
You won’t be disappointed with the illumination. I can promise you.
And the sentiment?
You and your husband are on your own.
Taking the new lamp:
Look at this. This isn’t a fair trade. How much do I owe you?
Consider it a wedding present, your highness.
You opened the door, I expected guards.
I don’t need them. Here; your lamp.
You’re too kind.
Can you sell it?
Some people want old things just because they’re old.
Incidentally, does your husband wear a ring? Before the marriage. Did he wear one?
No. Do you deal in rings?
I used to. I stopped. I shouldn’t have.
I thought you’d like jewelry more. There’s always sentiment.
He lifts his cart.
You should be someplace dry.
What about you? The storm hasn’t let up.
My cart is fine. And right now I don’t mind getting wet.
If I get sick of it, I’ll make it stop.
That would be impressive.
Goodnight, my Princess.
The Magician walks offstage. The Princess watches him go. After a few moments, evening sunshine. Lights fade. A spotlight on Jeannie. She wears a modern evening gown and looks into a mirror. She regards her image and begins putting on makeup and jewelry. Another spotlight rises elsewhere on the Magician in conference with Genie.
How strong are you?
You can fight an army?
You can lift buildings?
I mean not brick by brick. You can lift it all once?
Jeannie puts on a pair of heels.
And you can carry it—transport it on the winds—you can take it anywhere?
Are you the strongest?
The strongest of what?
Out of all the spirits, is there anyone stronger than you?
Jeannie is dissatisfied. She takes off the heels.
No. Not that I’ve met.
And I’m your master. The strongest man in the world.
My masters like to think of themselves that way. I’ve had many masters.
You can’t threaten me. I know how this works. I keep you close and I have nothing to worry about.
If you say so, Master.
The Major appears behind Jeannie, still in his uniform. He kisses her neck.
I stopped the rain.
It’s not much, but it should be enough.
You’re wonderful. I don’t deserve you.
Of course you do.
No, I’ve made you dress up for nothing.
I’ve been called to the base. I’m sorry; doctor’s orders. Will you be hungry later? Can we push the reservation to 9:30?
I can wait.
You look gorgeous.
You look overdressed.
The Major smiles, blows a kiss, and exits. Jeannie returns to the mirror.
Can you bring her back?
If I need someone, can you find them and bring them back?
Sometimes. If I find a person, I can bring them back.
Just people, or can you find spirits?
I’m not sure there are any left to find.
There’s one. At least one. You must know her. She’s beautiful. Do you know her?
Can you find her? I command you to find her.
Jeannie picks up her heels and makeup.
I’m always looking. I haven’t found her.
I thought you could hear every whisper on the wind.
She’s not whispering.
The spotlights fade. Lights up on Aladdin’s kitchen. The doorway is boarded up. Aladdin bursts into the house, breaking the planks over the door, dressed as a Prince. He looks around. He squats, peering under the table and cabinets. He catches a glint of something, lies down, and grabs it from under a cabinet. It is an overlooked gold saucer. Aladdin holds it and cries.
I lost it. I lost it....
He throws the platter to the ground. It skids to the stove. He looks at it, walks over, and begins sifting through the ash, dirtying his outfit. But he soon finds it: the ring. Aladdin puts it on and rubs his hands together. Jeannie appears, dressed identically to her outfit underground.
Aladdin stares at her, wiping his tears.
You like seeing this, huh?
You changed your outfit.
You started all of this, just so you could get a laugh.
You summoned me.
This is all a plot, you see. To make me trust you. To make me reliant. No; uh-uh. You’re going to bring her back.
I’ll obey you, Master. Who is it?
Who— Don’t you know?
You kept me in the ring. I know nothing since the last time I saw you.
Aladdin gets up, circling Jeannie.
No. You know I can’t believe that. This has been a scam right from the start. You give her to me, then you take her away!
Yeah, OK; yeah. A girl. I’m a Prince now.
The Crown Prince. I married the Emperor’s daughter.
And she’s gone. This is what—
—you blame me for. I don’t know why.
That’s your plan, right? You find somebody poor. Somebody a little bit different. Desperate. You promise them things. So I end up a Prince. Just for a little while. Then one day it’s all gone. She’s gone.
It’s happened to masters before.
Fine. I’ll give it to you.
He looks around.
You want it in writing? I’ll sign it over, right now.
This isn’t about your soul!
I’ll sign it over; just bring her back!
Bring her back. Bring her to me!
I don’t know her. I don’t know who I’m looking for.
You’ll find her. I’ll make you. Come on, you demon; how hard can it be to find a brand-new castle lifted out of the city?
You had a castle that was...lifted.
Yeah; easy come, easy go. That’s what you want to say?
You had a lamp.
So you know the guy.
He can lift a castle.
Of course he can; he built it. But now I see what you and your friend in the lamp are doing. You made me a fugitive; her father thinks I killed her.
My friend is a slave like I am. It sounds like he belonged to you. Maybe now he belongs to someone else. We need to find him.
He betrayed me....
...Just like you.
Exactly like me. I need to see him. We both do.
All right, that’s a start. Where do we find him?
I’d give anything to know that.
Start looking, then.
He shakes his head.
I don’t know why my Uncle had you. He must have known. I thought, he believed, you know? Living right by God. Instead he had a demon.
I don’t think I knew your Uncle.
Maybe he never used you, but he knew. And all the things he’s done. He made the hadj three times. I don’t even know if that’s something I’ll ever be able to do.
Mecca? We could leave now.
No way; no demon is going someplace so holy.
Demon. Is that what your pious Uncle thought of me?
I don’t know. I think he just wanted to get rid of you.
Master. Your Uncle, is he Chinese?
He’s African, I think. And a Muslim.
He sent you after the lamp.
That’s the expedition he had planned.
So you did talk to my—
We’re going to Africa.
I just said we’re not going to Mecca.
No; Morocco. Your Uncle’s home.
He took the lamp?
The lamp, your palace, your Princess. I’m sure of it.
But why dig up another spirit when he had you?
He got tired of me.
You’re not strong.
We’ll find him, you’ll take back the lamp, and he’ll be beaten. He’s a sorcerer, too. He can do things for us.
What do I need him for?
We should go.
That so? I thought I gave the commands.
So you do.
She folds her arms and waits.
Wind picks up and the lights fade. Spotlight on a chair. The Major sits; he is restrained. He begins to wake as the Doctor enters.
Good morning, Major!
Oh, Doctor, hello. Is it morning?
It is. We’ve had to keep you overnight, I’m afraid.
Is that a problem.
I had dinner plans.
Is anything wrong? I didn’t feel sick. I’m not sure why—
He notices he has been restrained. He looks around.
I’m not familiar with this part of the base, Doctor.
Yes, well you wouldn’t be.
What is all this?
An experiment, Major. An experiment for which I’m proud you’ve been a participant.
You’re a very brave officer. You deserve the truth. Even if, for the past few years, you haven’t been so truthful with us.
Doctor, I can explain—
I’m sure you can, Major.
If you think that Jeannie’s done anything that—
Jeannie? I didn’t say anything about her.
Doctor, I’m not naive. You’ve taken an active interest in my home life. More so than with any of the other officers.
Indeed I have, Major; we all have.
So you’ll understand when I tell you that I don’t find your experiments all that welcome.
I do understand.
I’m glad we can trust each other.
The Major lifts his arms, showing off the restraints.
Coming to the Major:
Oh, I’m sorry about that, Major. Let me get you out of those.
The restraints were necessary during the procedure. For your own safety.
Procedure. Doctor, what have you done?
Nothing, Major; nothing beyond our usual routine.
We have a routine?
Doctor, perhaps you’d better explain this experiment to me. Tell me everything.
Absolutely, Major. A few years ago, shortly before your first trip into orbit, you were recruited into a highly classified Air Force experiment.
No, I wasn’t.
You were. It was highly classified.
The Doctor walks to a table and retrieves a medicine bottle filled with a powder.
Major, every week for the past five years, you have been dosed with this hallucinogenic compound.
Every Tuesday night at 7:30.
We changed the day as necessary from year to year, but treatments for the most part were very—
Doctor. You used mind control drugs on me?
Major, no. The experiment monitored your mental state. A man in space, hours in isolation, he’s an ideal candidate for this treatment. And he can be easily monitored.
And you’ve been making me hallucinate for five years?
Over five years; yes. Every week since before your first flight. Your capsule misfired, resulting in your crash on that desert island. A happy accident, trading one type of isolation for another.
Yeah, but I was only on that island for a few hours.
Yes, a rescue ship came as soon as Jean—
The Doctor flips pages in a file.
You met Jeannie shortly after that flight, didn’t you? This is when things became...peculiar. You broke off your engagement to the General’s daughter. You began to host unusual guests at home. You decorated with interesting items.
Did it begin then? Doctor, I couldn’t say.
For the sake of argument, then. But these domestic changes were Jeannie’s doing, right? She’s a headstrong, generous woman who has become a great part of your life.
It’s all true. Jeannie’s everything to me.
I’m sure, Major. But she doesn’t exist.
The Major cracks a smile and shakes his head.
Your treatment, your drugs— You think Jeannie’s a hallucination?
I’m afraid so. You were a man in need, Major. Isolated on an island, under the influence of our experiment, you conjured someone to help.
No, Doctor. This can’t make any sense. Jeannie is real! We talk about her all the time.
Indeed we do.
You’ve been to my home; you’ve met her!
I’ve met a few women. You’ve introduced some of them to me as Jeannie.
Some of them?
They’ve looked so different, Major. Either she’s very good about changing her appearance or I don’t think I’ve met the same woman twice.
She has her own fashion sense, Doctor.
And the drugs? Everything you’ve seen. Everything that Jeannie’s done. My life has been illusions?
I’m sorry, Major.
No; you have been suspicious of me for years. When something unusual happens you always want an explanation.
Of course, Major. It’s an experiment.
Doctor, I have been places: Mount Everest, Hawaiian islands.
No, Doctor—no! I refuse to believe that years of my life—the most important woman in it— It has to be real.
You have a fantasy, Major. The perfect woman. She’s devoted to you. She would do anything for you—even the impossible. It must have seemed very real to you. But there was no magical romance. The only magic comes in this powder.
The Major is silent.
Speaking of which, you’ve passed, Major. We’re cutting off treatment. You’ve made the experiment a success.
I don’t see how I’ve passed, Doctor.
Your delusions are localized. Jeannie is the anchor for every one of your fantasies. You’ve deceived yourself, but you haven’t lost your mind.
Except for Jeannie.
That’s hardly the worst symptom, Major. British pilots have suffered worse in similar programs. Some of us thought the treatment would break you.
What did you think?
Looking at the bottle:
I thought it would do nothing at all.
So how does this end?
I’m keeping you on, Major. Not as a subject, but as an assistant. There are always more experiments. I want someone I can trust.
So do I. Doctor, I’m going home. To Jeannie.
You think you’ll find her there?
I know I will. She’s real.
Is the woman at home really the Jeannie you think you know? A woman who peppers your life with colorful adventure, granting your every wish? A woman who—on the face of it—turns your life upside-down and brings it back to normal—regularly? And I can only imagine she does this on a schedule that closely mirrors your visits to this facility. This is what you want to believe?
More than anything.
I’m sorry, Major. I find it easier to believe in the drugs.
A noise from offstage—a man moaning.
And it sounds as though I’ll require your assistance sooner than expected. I’m sorry, Major, but for now you won’t be going anywhere.
What kind of experiments do you do here, Doctor?
You’re about to become an expert.
The spotlight fades. Another spotlight rises on Jeannie, standing alone in the desert at night. Aladdin enters walking backward into the light.
My palace. That’s it; the whole thing.
Here it is in Morocco.
He picked it up. My guy; your— The other demon. He’s more powerful than I knew.
Then he’s the spirit I know.
I need a sword.
No. You won’t kill him.
To threaten him; I need something.
What good is a weapon against a wind spirit?
Aladdin is silent.
I have a suggestion. It’s less awful, just a bit.
A vial flies into Jeannie’s hand.
You poison your Uncle. You don’t have to confront him to do it.
So you do want to kill him.
This dose will weaken him, incapacitate him. You’ll get the lamp and we’ll force him to use his sorcery for us.
What do you care about my Uncle’s sorcery? I thought your friend did all the work, the slaves, the palace, and everything.
Call it a deal, Master. You’ll rule China soon. Thanks to your man in the lamp, you have an Empire. You’ll never want for anything. Hundreds of thousands of men under your command can provide more than any spirit could give you.
You want out.
It took enchantment to bind us to these objects; it will take someone who knows the same spells to set us free.
He had you before. He didn’t free you then.
He’ll do it. He knows I won’t seek revenge.
I’ll let you kill him, though. When I’m free.
What about me? You’d want revenge on all your masters?
Revenge on you will be: we give you everything you ever want.
Taking the poison:
You need me.
That’s an order. Unless you’ve stopped pretending to be a slave.
I had hoped to see her.
She must be beautiful.
Of course. She is everything to me. Everything. She has to be beautiful. You know, you said the same thing about me.
Centuries ago, I found the world’s most beautiful boy. You’re the closest thing I’ve seen since.
Oh yeah? What happened to him?
We woke him up next to the most beautiful girl in the world.
Oh, you set ’em up to get married?
No. We did it all for a wager. We split them up and expected them to go back to their lives. Instead, they became obsessed. They attacked the servants who claimed they were dreaming, didn’t eat, wept uncontrollably. Finally the Prince escaped.
Did he find her?
Of course he did; that’s what happens in these stories.
They got married? Lived happily ever after?
Yes and no. After they got married, they were in a shipwreck. They disappeared, probably drowned. No one from either kingdom saw them again.
So, what; this is a tragedy? The price of obsession, or some horror story?
They were in love. Lovers don’t always make the best decisions.
That your advice? I don’t buy it.
Love will destroy you if you let it.
You just stay here, all right?
Aladdin exits. Jeannie stares after him. Lights come up on the Major, standing in their bedroom. He stares at her. After a moment, Jeannie turns around and sees him.
You haven’t worn that in a while.
Jeannie looks down at her ancient costume.
I wanted to prove a point.
I stood you up.
I was angry. I sat alone with the lights out, all dressed up for dinner. Then I thought, maybe I’m not someone who can celebrate together with you. Maybe I am just a servant—
She grabs the bottle, holding it out to him.
—And if I am I’d better look the part.
She looks at him.
That was the thinking. I don’t know if I’m angry anymore.
The Major hugs Jeannie tightly.
I can hold you.... I touch you and you’re real.
As real as you wish me to be.
No. Even more.
Beat. The Major still won’t let go.
How was work?
Work doesn’t exist. It’s...ugly. It’s turned ugly.
Master, something’s happened.
Tell me. Let me do something about it.
You can’t. Jeannie, they’ve drugged me.
They’ve made me do things. I don’t want that. Jeannie...I don’t want you to fade away.
I know that. More than anything, I know that.
I will be with you. Always. You know how you can tell?
Jeannie, you must stay with me. You must help me through this.
As you wish.
They’re making me do things, Jeannie. The CIA’s involved. I’m useful to them.
I’ll stop them.
I’ll help you, though.
Jeannie, I don’t tell you I love you. I’ve told others. The Doctor knows. But I love you.
Do you love me?
I love you right now.
I’ve loved before. Given myself entirely—
That’s more than enough. Jeannie I love you forever. For as much forever as I have.
I’ll love you longer.
Jeannie, they’ve changed me. I won’t be the same when they’re done with me. When it’s over, I don’t know if you could love me.
I want to still love you.
Close your eyes.
I want to love you always....
The Major falls asleep as the lights fade. Lights rise on a balcony in Aladdin’s palace. The Princess stands alone, watching the desert night. The Magician enters with a blanket.
It gets cold at night.
He hands her the blanket.
He looks into the desert.
Enjoying the view?
I’ve never seen the desert. I’ve never seen anything but the city.
The things the powerful do to their children. Isolation’s no good.
I guess not.
Here’s a little more of the world. Something to start you out. You see, I travel. I’ve seen too much of the world, probably. That’s still better than isolation.
And looking out the window’s not enough. Tomorrow we’re going into town. I speak the language; you’ll pick up a few words. You’ll enjoy it.
So I’m staying?
I’d like you to.
I thought you wanted the palace.
I thought so, too.
What about my husband?
You know he’s not a Prince. He’s stolen from me and deceived your father.
I guessed that. I think I’ve always known.
That bothers you?
Because he’s beautiful.
You’re the beautiful one; a girl like you could get away with murder if you wanted to. I think that’s how the male brain works, anyway. Women are beautiful. Men get driven mad by it.
And you’re driven mad?
By someone else’s beauty; I apologize. You have a beautiful husband—I’ll take your word for it—and here you are, completely well-adjusted.
What made him into a Prince? It was all the lamp?
Every bit of it. It was my studies. Your husband’s legwork, slightly. All the rest is due to those that control the winds.
You say that lightly. You’re Chinese. Your people know that we can find spirits in the water, the sky—everywhere. They’re accepted. Your husband and I are different. We follow the Prophet. Any powers outside of human possibility are God’s and God’s alone.
Oh. You believe this?
I grew up believing it. Spirits that could look me in the eye were demons—or they didn’t exist at all. Faith in God was everything.
This is amusing.
This is a faith you married into, and there’s truth to it. But I’m not going to ignore what I see. There are spirits in God’s world. There’s sorcery. And I’ve made something good out of it.
You deserve a castle for all your good work.
Aladdin shouldn’t have a castle or a Princess. I’m simply setting things as they were.
Not at all, your Majesty. It’s equitable. In practice it’s quite the opposite of nobility. I worked for this. He didn’t. If your husband has to pay for his fraud—or for the mysterious absence of his wife—so be it.
He caused a castle to mysteriously appear. Now it’s gone, and so are you. I wonder what your father thinks about that.
The Magician stretches.
So, I figure we wait a few days. The justice system will take its natural course. Then you go home, safe and sound.
Make yourself at home.
I though I was home.
In this place? You never believed that.
I can’t find the ring.
There isn’t one. I told you.
If it was still buried I would have found it by now. You say he doesn’t wear it. I have searched every inch of this castle. He wouldn’t throw it away.
I’ve never seen him with it. You’re talking about something magical?
Like you wouldn’t believe.
Who needs a magic lamp and a magic ring?
I just need the ring.
The Magician starts to leave. He turns.
Your majesty, I’m sorry for what I’ve done to you. But I really do want to give you your life back. Your life as it should be. Your arrangement with Aladdin is nothing more than an illusion. As the husband of a princess, he doesn’t exist. You don’t deserve that.
So I’ll go back to my father’s palace, shut away from the world, safe and sound.
And I won’t have to think about that beautiful boy anymore.
It’s the least I can do.
The Magician exits. The Princess watches the desert. She closes her eyes and lets the blanket fall from her shoulders. After a moment, she takes two steps over the railing. She stands on the edge, ready to jump. She lifts one foot into the air—just as a grappling hook comes up from below. She looks down.
Grunting, Aladdin pulls himself onto the balcony. He stands, catches his breath, looks at his wife, and kisses her.
Does he know I’m here?
No. But he expects you.
He’ll never see me. I have a plan.
We don’t need it. Your rope is here. We’ll escape.
We are not escaping; we’re setting things right. This palace is coming back. I’m going to protect you.
Me? Or is this about a lamp?
He slaps her. Beat.
You don’t think I love you? He lied to you about the lamp. He lied to me. He’ll suffer for it. You’re going to poison him.
He won’t suspect you.
He produces the vial.
The whole thing, into his next meal. We’re only free then.
Go to the kitchen.
The Princess exits. Lights fade. Lights up on the Major’s bedroom, darkened for nighttime. Standing alone onstage is a Prisoner. He is barefoot and wears the Major’s jacket over an orange jumpsuit. Jeannie enters. She stares at him.
The Prisoner looks at her, but does not respond. The Major enters.
You need to pack.
As much as you can. We’re leaving.
Who is this?
The Major throws two suitcases onto the bed and begins to fill them.
An Air Force prisoner?
No. I don’t know the circumstances. It’s something to do with Islamic terror.
This man’s a terrorist.
He isn’t. And that’s a problem. He’s Muslim; a Uyghur from China.
To the Prisoner:
I didn’t know there were Muslims in China.
There used to be more. Even some that were ethnically Chinese.
It was bad intelligence, Jeannie. He was picked up in Egypt. At a religious school. CIA...Mossad—someone thought it was a front. Everyone was arrested, interrogated. There were no terrorists.
The Prisoner offers the Major his jacket. He takes it.
The Egyptians were sent to Egypt—quietly. The Syrians went to Syria. But China. We can’t return him there. Even if we could, they’d kill him.
So you’ll free him here.
I will. But the Doctor won’t.
I have to do this, Jeannie. Jeannie, do you understand? I have to know I can free someone. Eugene!
The Prisoner turns to him. The Major speaks to Jeannie.
—His name isn’t Eugene. We call him that.
To the Prisoner:
Eugene! Where are we going?
He has family in Oregon. A brother, I think.
We’re helping him escape.
This is our escape, too. Eugene!
He guides him to Jeannie.
Give him something to wear. Ten minutes, we leave.
You’re not an astronaut anymore.
I stay, I won’t be one anyway.
He kisses her. He kisses her again.
Lights fade. Sunrise on Aladdin’s palace. The Magician stares out into the desert. Genie sits perched on the railing, doing the same thing. Time passes.
I hear her.
The Magician turns to him.
She’s out there in the desert; can you hear her?
The Magician listens. He hears nothing.
Can you bring her to me?
She came here with Aladdin. They must be on their way here.
Looks like the Emperor was lenient with him.
He’s a coward; he must have run. I suppose there’s no point in chasing them. We’ll wait for them to arrive. We’ll be prepared.
We need to talk.
Our mutual spirit friend. You’re about to get her back. You’re in love with her.
So am I.
The Magician snickers.
No; I’m sorry. I see it perfectly. Unfortunately, those chains of yours limit your say in the matter somewhat.
You’re going to free her.
You don’t want her as a servant. You’ve tried that already.
And what about you?
I don’t care. If you need to bargain my freedom away back to Aladdin, so be it. But you’re going to free her.
The Princess enters, carrying a drink. She hands it to the Magician. He considers Genie’s offer.
To the Princess:
He turns to Genie:
You don’t think she loves me.
If you were an honest man, I’d leave you alone. I’d let you live and die in her company. But you are not an honest man.
Once I free her, you think she’ll want you.
Is that any reason not to free her?
No. Why don’t you go back for now? I want you ready.
The Genie nods, returning to the lamp. The Magician turns to the Princess.
You were right, you know. What you said about beauty.
You find my husband beautiful, too?
It’s enough that you do. I’m sending you back to China tonight. To your father. To your husband.
What about my palace?
That will follow.
And the lamp?
The spirit and I will have to discuss that.
I didn’t think he had a say in the matter.
Maybe not, but what he’s said so far has been very persuasive.
I will tell you this, your Majesty. I should have never traded beauty for power. That’s not a trade you’ll ever have to make, but you should know. There are consequences.
What did I trade the lamp for?
Exactly what I told you: new memories. I meant every word of—
He stops and breathes heavily through his nose. His face swells.
The Magician drops the cup and falls to his knees, wobbling. He looks at her. He understands. Aladdin appears, sword in hand.
The lamp. Give it to me!
The Magician, tearing, nods. He reaches into his robe and gives the lamp to Aladdin.
Go to Hell.
He stabs the Magician. The Magician collapses, dying. The Princess goes wide-eyed.
He gave you what you wanted.
I took what I wanted.
Winds blow and Jeannie appears. She approaches the Magician.
She cradles his head. He looks at her. He smiles.
The Magician dies. Weeping, Jeannie looks at Aladdin.
He was supposed to live. He was supposed to free us.
I had my own plan. It never involved freeing you.
The lamp. It’s him.
It is. You won’t see him.
Master, I thought you didn’t want us. Why keep us imprisoned?
You’re a danger to my country. And to God, you’re an abomination. You should never be freed.
From now until the end of time.
The last one you’ll ever have.
Aladdin stares at her, rubbing the ring. Jeannie disappears into it.
She’s a threat?
All demons are.
He rubs the lamp. Genie appears.
Handing him the ring:
Genie’s eyes go wide.
People will find it. The Magician read about the ring. Others have books.
What is this?
Tell you what: melt it down.
He grabs a bottle from a table.
Make it a band around this. Then bury it in the ocean. An island no one will ever sail to.
What is this?!
He makes sure the bottle and ring are firmly in Genie’s hands.
Go. Return to the lamp when you’re done.
Genie leaves in the wind.
We’re still in Morocco.
He’ll take us back. Then he gets buried, too. I’ll grind it into glass if I need to.
Aladdin. You’re destroying a beautiful thing.
A dangerous thing.
But they are beautiful, aren’t they?
Lights fade on the palace and rise on a soda machine glowing in the night. A car pulls up nearby. Jeannie, the Major, and the Prisoner enter, all in casual clothing. The Prisoner looks uncomfortable.
To the Prisoner:
OK, Eugene. Restrooms are on the other side. Jeannie, why don’t you take him?
Is he OK?
He was sleeping. He’s groggy, but he’ll be fine. Look, I’ll get you a soda.
I’m worried, Master. How is driving through the night any safer than flying?
Getting on a plane? Giving our names and walking past security?
Not in front of Eugene.
I’m discreet. He wouldn’t have to know.
You shouldn’t have to do all the work. You shouldn’t have to do any.
He puts change into the machine and presses a button. Nothing comes out.
Just play bathroom monitor.
To the Prisoner:
Come on, Eugene.
Jeannie and the Prisoner exit. The Major presses the button again, still with no result. Frustrated, he reaches into the machine.
Good evening, Major.
The Doctor appears, disheveled and hunched over. The Major rises, looks at him, and looks around in a panic.
I’ve been following you, Major. I can’t let you go. I can’t let Eugene go, either.
I’m not letting you touch him.
You forget that Eugene is on a drug regimen quite similar to what you were given. It’s in his best interests to remain under my supervision.
I don’t believe that. Not for a second.
I’m sorry to hear that, Major.
Where’s your backup?
Backup? Major, I’m afraid enlisting the help of Air Force MPs would force me to answer questions I’d rather keep unexplored. You know that.
I thought as much.
I came alone. I’m sure you can listen to reason. I need that boy.
You won’t get him.
I wondered if you might resist. And if there was any way you might listen to reason. I found the answer in your car.
The Doctor reaches into his coat and reveals Jeannie’s bottle.
This is sentimental, isn’t it? It belongs to Jeannie?
It’s quite beautiful.
He smashes the bottle against the side of the soda machine.
But the world is ugly.
The Major stands, in shock. In one motion, the Doctor steps towards the Major and plunges the jagged bottleneck into his stomach. The Major collapses.
You’re a romantic, Major, and I’m afraid the world has little it can offer you.
The Major begins to spit blood. He begins to pull himself closer to the Doctor, grasping at his arm.
My experiment for you was a success, but it couldn’t do much for you otherwise. Perhaps with Eugene I’ll have better luck.
The Major reaches for the bottle. The Doctor notices.
How primal! Crying out for a bottle like it’s mother’s milk. Very well; as you wish.
The Doctor drops the bottleneck to the ground and steps away. The Major grabs it and rubs. Jeannie enters. The Doctor looks her over.
The Major thinks you’re special.
Jeannie looks at the Major, aghast. She gives the Doctor a steely look. He flies backwards into the side of the soda machine. He collapses, then tries to stand. Jeannie gives another look and the soda machine tips on its side, collapsing on the Doctor, crushing him. After a moment, a soda bottle falls from the machine.
He broke your bottle.
It doesn’t matter. We need to get you to a hospital.
No; we need to go to Oregon. There’s a man. Eugene’s uncle. A sorcerer.
You’re delirious. There’s no such thing. Not anymore.
It’s true. A real life sorcerer. I’ve read his casefile. He can free you.
He picks up the soda bottle and offers it.
Here’s your soda....
You need a doctor. Wish it.
He drops the soda.
I love you, Jeannie.
I want you to be happy.
Then you’ll live. Let’s go.
She calls offstage:
Jeannie leads the Major offstage. With the stage empty, the cap of the soda bottle flies off. It begins to fill the stage with smoke as the lights fade.