Alter Ego – NO EXIT

The Scene:
(A room, with two plush, red couches, a roaring fireplace, sits Inez and Estelle. Garcin is no longer in the room. Bent over in the corner is a young, thin boy).

INEZ: Hello. (A pause.) Who is this boy we have here?

ESTELLE: (sweetly): What is your name young man?

INEZ: Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you. (Still silence) We can’t hurt you, even if we wanted to.

ESTELLE: Stop Inez. You’ll scare him.

INEZ: He’s already scared. Look at him shivering. Are you cold little boy? Would you like this chenille throw I have here?

ELIE: Yes, thank you. (Elie grabs the throw and wraps it around himself)

ESTELLE: How can you be cold? It must be one hundred degrees in this room. I’m sweating through my pantyhose.

INEZ: So take them off, you fool.

ESTELLE: (shakes her head at Inez) A lady would never take of her hose in public.

ELIE: (Still facing the corner) My name is Elie Weisel.

INEZ: Elie, did you know that this is hell? We are in hell together?

ELIE: (turns around) This is hell? (he quietly laughs) Not possible.

INEZ: It’s evident that you do not believe me.

ESTELLE: Leave him alone Inez?

ELIE: No, it’s okay. It’s just that this isn’t hell. I’ve just come from hell.
(There is a short silence.)

ESTELLE: (gently) Whatever do you mean Elie?

ELIE: You haven’t experienced hell until you’ve lived in my shoes.

INEZ: But you have no shoes dear boy

ESTELLE: Inez! Let him speak.

ELIE: I have just come from the most horrible place imaginable. Hell is World War II. Hell is the concentration camps that I just came from. Hell is the stench of dead bodies burning. Hell is knowing that your mother and sister are part of that smell. Hell is fighting your neighbor for a crust of bread and not knowing if you’ll ever eat again. Hell is marching in the freezing cold with this flimsy, dirty shirt (he pulls at his shirt). Hell is witnessing other people die, wanting it to be you, but the voices in your head tell you otherwise. Hang on. Just one more day. Hell is Hitler himself. (Estelle interrupts)

ESTELLE: Yes, I have heard of this Hitler person. Ugly little man they say. He is down here with us.. in a room with Osama something or other.. and the devil himself.

ELIE: Then, I must be in hell after all. (He falls back on the couch to take it all in).

Alter Ego – The Plague

I woke up with a start to a bolt of white light. All I remember is being very thirsty, and then complete darkness. Now I am awake and am in what looks like a hospital with several beds and chalk board with various names written on it. There’s my name Wiesel, bed nine. I can hear people talking, but no words come to me. In all of the discussion I can make out the words “infection”, “spreading”, and “the boy’s body”. Am I dying? Was I shot? Why can’t I get up? I feel my arms. Yup, both there. I feel my legs. They feel alright. I feel my face. Still there. So my face hasn’t been blown off. Good. But what are these bumps. Ouch! They hurt. Something is wrong with me or I wouldn’t be here. Am I back in the concentration camp? Is my foot infected again? No it looks fine. Then why am I here? It must be these bumps. I feel hopeless and sad. Will my life ever be easy? When will the suffering end? Will I make it through this time? I hate my life. I hate God even more for putting me through this again.
The recent attacks on the United States resulting in the elimination of the World Trade Center, the lives lost at the Pentagon, and the aborted operation in Pennsylvania brings important religious questions to the forefront. September 11th is a difficult subject for me to discuss. It is scarily reminiscent of the feelings I had when I was 15 years old living in a concentration camp. How could this happen? Why is so much energy spent on evil? Where is God in all of this? I asked God where He was in the Holocaust. I pointed to the body of a young man hung from a gallows in a prison camp and decided that God was right there, in the center of human suffering. On the day of the attack on our nation, God was with those who were brought to the hospital. God was with the families who lost loved ones. God is there when babies are born, when children are laughing, and when firefighters rush into buildings about to collapse. He is with those that give their lives so that others might be saved. God is with us in our suffering. I believe that we must keep faith in God because without faith we have no hope. We are people of hope. Hope is an essential component in survival . People seem more friendly now in Manhattan, more tolerant of each other. I must go now, I have a headache. I am 75 years old now, and need a nap.
- Elie

Alter Ego

Scene: (Elie and Usama sitting on a bus in New York City. Elie is staring a Usama’s very large bag.)

Usama: What are you looking at?

Elie turns his head away and says nothing.

Usama: What do you think I have in my bag? I have dark skin so I must be a terrorist, right?

Elie: (Says nothing)

Usama: Did you hear me Jew?

Elie: It’s possible.

Usama: You are disgusting.

Elie: (Sighs) Look, just leave me alone and spare me your political views.

Usama: I will spare you, this time, but do not forget my face.

Elie: And do not underestimate me.

Usama: I’m not afraid of you Jew!

Elie: It is not me, but God you should fear.

Usama gets off the bus at the next stop.


Alter Ego

For those of you that know me, you know that I am Jewish and extremely knowledgeable of my religion. However, my knowledge of Islam is far less familiar. Salman Rushdie’s book has helped me understand Islam a bit more, although I would never claim to understand it fully. I could relate to the cultural struggle of the protagonists, Gabreel Farishta and Chamcha. This often humorous novel is full of political innuendos, good vs. evil and multifaceted characters. Rushdie’s dabbles with the idea of God, but he also does not validate it. I may not agree with his issues with religion and society, but I recognize Rushdie for having the passion to write such a book. Without passion we lose our faith, without faith we have nothing.

Alter Ego

I was sitting alone in my apartment on 73rd Street and West End Avenue after only having been in New York for about two weeks when I experienced a shock. I chose the location of my residence because it was the cheapest studio that I could find. Across the street was a small grocery store owned by a Chinese couple. They lived above the store in an apartment that ran parallel to mine. I saw them smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee every morning before the store opened at 6:00am. I liked to start my writing before the sun came up. That had been my ritual for two weeks. Like mine, their window was always wide open. I could not control the heat in my apartment so I needed the ventilation. Well, that particular day, it was a Monday, I remember because I dropped my tuna fish sandwich in my chicken noodle soup (this was the lunch special at West End Deli on Mondays), and I saw the most unusual sight. I saw the wife (I never knew her name) kissing another woman. The other woman was slightly older and Chinese as well. A voyeuristic curiosity took over and I couldn’t help watching the whole thing. At the time, I had only “been” with one woman before, so this was flabbergasting and incredibly erotic. The women kissed, undressed each other, and when they were completely naked they touched each others breasts. They were laughing and kissing each other’s pale skin. I had never seen skin so white. It was beautiful. The phone rang and the wife answered it. They both got dressed and left immediately. I never knew if the husband found out, and I never saw it happen again.

Alter Ego

Scene: (Elie is eating a croissant and café au lait in a Paris café. A man sits down next to him, and although he is wearing dark sun glasses and a black hat, Elie senses a familiarity.)

Elie: (Squints his eyes and briefly hesitates) Excuse me, aren’t you Gao Xingjian?

Gao: Yes. (Gao’s head remains down, does not look up at Elie. He pulls his Chinese newspaper in front of his face.)

Elie: I’m sorry to disturb you, but I must tell you that I am an admirer of your work.

Gao: Thank you.

Elie: Again, my apologies for interrupting your paper, but I’ve always wanted to meet you. My name is Elie Weisel.

Gao: (looks up) Yes (slightly shakes his head), I am familiar with your name. You wrote The Fifth Son, it was the winner of the Grand Prize in Literature from Paris.

Elie: Wow, I’m honored that you know my name.

Gao: The honor is mine sir.

Elie: How ironic that we should meet here today.

Gao: Paris is a Mecca for those seeking political asylum. I’m sorry, but I must leave before I am recognized. (Gao pulls a piece of paper from his pocket and passes it to Elie.) I’d love to discuss politics with you in a more private environment. Please join me for dinner while you are in Paris. This is my private number.
Gao walks away, turns the corner and disappears.

Elie: What a strange fellow. (He carefully folds the paper and places it in his wallet.)


Alter Ego – Elie Weisel

I liked this girl, Brita Nilsson (appositive- ha, ha), who photographed me today. She was intriguing. Brita only photographs writers because she is making a book. I was more than happy to pose for her because of her notoriety. She asked me many questions about my past. Never before had a photographer been so inquisitive. Bill Gray was her last assignment. He is dead, but I have heard of him. Brita told me that he was a real challenge. She said that I have a trusting face. A face with honor. She tries to uncover what makes writers go into hiding and why people want to unearth them. She told me, “the writer's face is the surface of the work.” There is truth to this statement. My face is old and worn. The struggles I have faced in my lifetime show in every crease.

Alter Ego – poem

the place lord
of office
harrowing drugs
brutally killed in a treacherous zoo
murder in the yard
police officers
force Robin Hood
borrowed holocaust


Alter Ego - poem

Stiff Consciousness
tantalize the boy
you youthful hostage
sexual servants
with power
an awkward learner for
contaminated Sharifa
he’s a useless………………
perception of a
political freedom advantages

Alter Ego - Elie

I have a daughter. Her name is Susan. She is young and extremely intelligent. Susan is interested in politics and philanthropy. She graduated from Brown University last year, and is getting a Master’s in public education at New York University. She is on the board of the Jewish Community Center in New York City. She lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Golden Retriever, Hudson. My daughter, she is always working. I say to her, “Susan, why don’t you find a nice boy and settle down.” I know my words go in one ear and out the other. She doesn’t even date. As her overprotective father, I worry that Susan will fall for the wrong man. A woman can be as smart as Einstein, but unable to form complete sentences when love is involved. I do not want my only daughter to end up like Kelly. What happened with Kelly? What happened to her sense of reason? I hope that my fear of trusting people has not been passed on to my children because fear is a weakness. The Senator preyed on Kelly’s powerlessness. My Susan is exposed to many influential men as well, but for now, she seems disinterested. My life has been challenging, but the pain of outliving a child would be too much for me to bear.