Cast of Characters
In order of appearance
- Natalie Teeger, the Integrated Self (Spirit)
- Adrian Monk, the Manager
- Leland Stottlemeyer, the Protector
- Hope, the Exile
- The Light, Truth
- The Key, Forgiveness
I see a locked door. In a dark and scary place, like a monster movie. Big, iron, with crisscrossed chains and padlocks.
Natalie walks up holding a flashlight. Monk trails behind nervously.
Suddenly Stottlemeyer steps in front of them. His eyes are bloodshot, as if he has been drinking, crying, or not sleeping. Perhaps all three. He is holding his gun in two shaky hands. Pointed at them.
“I warned you not to come here,” he rasps in a hoarse voice.
Natalie freezes. Then surprisingly, Monk steps forward. His hands are up and his voice is calm.
“It is okay, Leland. It is just me. You know you can trust me.”
Leland pulls back the hammer on his pistol. “Don’t make me do this, Monk. This is your last warning.”
Monk continues walking forward. “It is okay, Leland. You don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’m here to help. Haven’t I always been there for you, no matter what?”
Leland starts crying, but the gun never wavers. Neither does Monk. He walks forward and gently removes the gun from Leland’s shaking hands. Leland stares at him in shock, then slowly crumples to the floor and sobs.
Natalie starts to rush over to comfort him, but Monk, suddenly authoritative, holds up his hand to stop her. “Not yet. First we have to finish this.” He points at the locked door.
Natalie casts one more look of pity at the weeping policeman, then nods, squares her shoulders, and heads toward the door.
Once there, she pulls a large golden skeleton key out of her purse. Ignoring the chains and padlocks, she inserts it into the keyhole. It turns easily, silently. She grabs the doorknob and pulls.
Inside is utter blackness. I see a young girl, lying in a fetal position. Covered in chains.
Natalie sees her in the flashlight. She hands it to Monk and runs towards the girl. She thinks she will need to key to unlock the chains, but it turns out the girl is just using them as a blanket. Since there is no other source of comfort here.
Monk shines the light around the room. He’s expecting a grimy dungeon, but it is more like a shiny cathedral. An golden altar, a brass organ covering an entire wall.
“This isn’t a Prison. This is a Sanctuary,” he breathes.
“It became a prison,” says Natalie grimly, nodding to the door. Monk looks and sees that the door had been locked from the inside. The knob on the deadbolt was shiny, as if it had been often polished; but the mechanism was covered in dust, testifying to long unuse.
“Can you get up?” Natalie asks the girl, who seems to have just woken up and is staring at them with wild, vulnerable eyes. The girl nods, then slowly climbs to her feet. The chains fall away. She staggers, her muscles cramped and weak from disuse. They slip her arms around their shoulders, Monk on the left and Natalie on the right.
“Come on,” says Monk. “It is time to go home.”
As they reach the door, they are met by a rumpled Stottlemeyer with haunted eyes. Monk wordlessly hands him the gun, butt first. Leland stares at it.
“Take it,” says Monk. “You are her bodyguard, not her jailer. You are supposed to protect her in the world, not from it.”
Leland shifts his gaze to stare at Monk, his mouth open in wonder, his body convulsing from some inner turmoil. Suddenly it stops, and he stands erect. The haunted look is gone, replaced by a steely resolve. “Thank you,” he says, his voice firm with a new authority. “I had forgotten. I am sorry,” he adds, glancing towards both Natalie and the girl.
Monk smiles. So does the girl, shyly. She releases their arms and takes a tentative step forward, towards Leland. “Thank you,” she says, holding her arms out to him.
Leland puts the gun away in his armpit holster, then kneels to embrace the girl. He is weeping again, but this time joy mingles with the sorrow. “I am sorry, so so sorry,” he repeats over and over again.
“Don’t be,” says the girl, who has been weeping with him. “You were my only friend when I had no friends. You served me as best you knew how. As best I knew how.”
The she rises and lifts him to his feet.
“But the time for hiding is past,” she proclaims, a hint of iron in her voice. She is no longer a defenseless girl, but a determined young woman. “My kingdom needs me, and I have spent too much time alone in the dark. Come!”
It is a command. They obey. She turns her face towards the outside world and holds out her hands. Natalie takes her right. Leland her left. Monk places his hand on Leland’s shoulder, grinning. Relaxed. At peace.
“That way,” he says, pointing forward and to the right.
Together, they step forward into the Light.