Once upon a time, there was a young boy. His name was Holden Caulfield. Within the walls of the dormitories at Pencey Prep, Holden was reading an important piece of literature.
“I've had enough of this phony book!!!” Holden exclaimed angrily, throwing The Old Man and the Sea out the window. “I don't even understand what it's about!!!”
He then went to the bathroom, only to discover that his roommate had notoriously been there and failed to dispose of the conspicuous evidence.
“AAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” Holden yelled in fury. “I have had it with this phony school! I am SOOOO LEAVING!!!!!”
And so, Holden Caulfield packed his things, adjusted his red hunting hat, and left Pencey Prep forever.
“Good riddance!” Holden said as he walked away from the school. “I'm gonna go to Central Park and see the little ducks!”
When Holden arrived at Central Park, he found that there were no ducks at the lake.
“WHAT?!?!?!” Holden screamed. “Where did the ducks go?!?!? I don't understand!!! What happened to the ducks?!?!!”
Then, Holden remembered—ducks fly south for the Winter. But... it /wasn't/ Winter. He concluded that there /must/ be something stopping the ducks from returning to Central Park.
“I must go save the ducks!” Holden declared heroically. “But how?”
Then, Holden spotted a poster pinned against a tree. It read:
Cruise down the Mississippi-$135. Come down South! Dept. Time: 11:45 AM.
“Down South!” Holden yelled in excitement. “That's where the ducks are! I must take this cruise!”
So the following day, Holden boarded the cruise in hope of saving his beloved ducks.
Setting: The Dust Bowl
Here in the Dust Bowl, life is as unpredictable as a Lindsay Lohan film. A man named Tom Joad wandered along a long stretch of road, desperate for work in an era where hope seemed all but tangible.
Suddenly, Tom Joad came across a leaflet on the ground.
“Go South...” Tom Joad said after reading the leaflet. “That's it! Maybe I can gets a job there!!! I's a edumacated as any Southerner! Maybe this be stirrin' me to work. I must take this here cruise!!!”
And so, Tom Joad, that very same day, boarded the ship.
Setting: Salem, Massachusetts.
Abigail Williams, reputed sleaze, sought escape from the Puritan society which, after discovering her affair with John Proctor, was set on punishing her. She found her hoped escape via a ship promising to take her down South, to safety. She boarded said ship immediately.
Setting: New England
Arthur Dimmesdale attempted to elude his inner demons by taking a ship into a better world, away from the faces he could no longer bear to look at. Swiftly, he boarded a ship, hoping to find peace in the South.
Setting: The Loman House
Willy Loman, who has lost all inspiration in life, hoped to regain it by taking an inspirational trip down the Mississippi. He took his needy, ape-like son Biff along with him, in order to perhaps inspire him to become a better man as well.
Setting: On Board
The S.S. Mississippi had taken off less than a week ago and now, all six fated passengers were on board.
Holden Caulfield, the first passenger to arrive, looked around the dining room. He spotted another youth, who was wearing a football jersey.
'Pfft! What a phony!' Holden thought.
The ape-like creature known as Biff moved towards Holden. Then, it spoke.
“Me Biff!' Biff Loman said, gesturing to himself.
“Hi,” Holden managed to reply.
“Biff!” Willy Loman, the salesman, shouted. “What did I tell you about /stranger danger/?!”
“This friend!” Biff stated, stupidly pointing at Holden.
“R-really?” Willy blinked, sounding optimistic as he looked to Holden. “I suppose Biff hasn't told you much about me. I used to be a salesman, you know?”
Willy Loman then went on to talk about his sales ability and how important a role in society being a salesman was, much to Holden's exasperation.
'This guy is even worse...' Holden thought to himself, faintly nauseated. 'What an überphony! Seriously, does he hear himself /talk/?!'
It was then that Abigail Williams entered the picture.
“There's nothing to do in this awful ship!” Abigail complained.
Suddenly, Willy Loman stopped talking.
'Who is that /angel/?' Willy thought, staring avidly at Abigail.
“Hi, I'm Abigail.” Abigail noticed Willy looking at her.
“I'm Willy Loman, and I am here to find my inspiration!” Willy said in an attempt to sound impressive. “I am on a soul-searching journey!”
“Derp, what's a soul?” Biff asked.
“STOP IT!!!” Holden shouted in rage. “You're ALL phonies!!! ALL OF YOU!!!”
Unexpectedly, Tom Joad awoke from his slumber.
“Hey! Some of us's tryin' to sleep here!” Tom Joad snapped. “Shut yer mouth and let me sleep!”
“Sleep is for phonies, and you're a phony!” Holden said, storming out of the room.
“What the Hell is wrong with that kid!?” Willy frowned.
“I have no idea...” Abigail shrugged.
“I'm Arthur Dimmesdale,” Dimmesdale stated, awkwardly walking into the room.
“Charmed.” Abigail replied.
“You know, Abigail, I was once a salesman...” Willy said cheerfully.
“You's a salesman, says you?” Tom Joad quirked a brow.
“Yep!” Willy answered proudly. “The best of my time!”
“You is nothin' but a no-good swindler!” Tom Joad snarled, furious. “You should be uh-shamed of yerself!”
“Well, I could see how an /Okie/ like you would think that...” Willy retorted acidly. “If I looked like you, I would hate all clean-cut salesmen, too!”
“Don't use yer fancy-speak with me!” Tom Joad hollered.
“Men! Men!” Abigail pleaded, attempting to intervene. “Calm down! There's no necessity for such awful quarreling!”
“Indeed, I apologize, dear miss...” Willy said, lowering his gaze. “I suppose I got carried away...”
“I's sorry too...” Tom Joad apologized.
With that said, all the ship's passengers relaxed for the remainder of the afternoon, deep into the night. Everyone eventually retired to their sleeping quarters.
Abigail was asleep in her room. It was late at night. Suddenly, a dark figure appeared from underneath her bed.
It revealed itself most dramatically as Satan.
“Abigail.” Satan whispered.
“Who said that?!” Abigail awoke, terrified.
“Abigail... the whole of Salem knows what you have done. And so they cast you out disgracefully. Now, you are aboard a ship of strangers, Abby, with no John and no point in sight.” Satan taunted, laughing maniacally.
“I know...” Abigail noted in a weak voice.
“But Abby, dear Abby, I can help you. I know you love John Proctor, and I can bring him to you. I can make him love you, Abby...” Satan purred.
“What must I do?” Abigail asked, intrigued by Satan's offer.
“You must damn the other five passengers on this ship, Abigail. Lure them to their sweet perdition. Then, and only then, you shall find yourself with Proctor.” Satan instructed.
“I'll do it!” Abigail replied without a moment's hesitation, essentially making a pact with Satan.
The next day, Abigail set out to damn them all. She would begin, she decided, with Holden Caulfield, the easiest target.
Abigail had all of it planned. Her kiss, she knew, would seal her victim's fate.
She spotted Holden in the upper level of the ship, breathing the crisp seaside air and enjoying the breeze. She approached.
“How good is it to finally be alone, no?” Abigail stated, a tint of melancholy in her tone. She knew just what to say.
“Yeah...” Holden agreed, nodding softly. “Alone.”
“You know, it's so difficult to enjoy oneself with people like that Loman creeping about the place. He's such a nuisance...” Abigail sighed in mock exasperation.
“Yeah, he's a complete phony.” Holden added.
“The world is full of phonies,” Abigail noted in pretense reflection. “Sometimes, I wish all the people in this world were just ducks.”
Holden gazed at her, notably smitten.
“Ducks are such peaceful, unpretentious creatures. Sometimes, I wonder what it's like to be a duck and just float along without a care in the world...” Abigail mused.
“Do you...” Holden looked her in the eye, a pubescent intensity in his tone. “Do you keep your kings in the back row?”
Abigail simply nodded.
The moment was ideal. Holden's lips pressed against Abigail's in what probably was the whiny little brat's first capricious stirrings towards manhood.
“Ducks...” Holden sighed as he regained his composure, a soft blush taking his cheeks as he fussed with his red hunting hat. “They just kill me, you know?”
It was then that, quite suddenly, Holden's beloved ducks returned from their trip south. Thousands of them flocked to him in a furious horde, descending upon him and pecking him ceaselessly unto death.
Satisfied, Abigail slunk away from the scene.
That night was the most peaceful the passengers had ever experienced. Without Holden, everything was silent and serene. Eventually, all retired to bed happy, unsuspecting. Little did they know that their lives were all being stirred towards a very different destination, via hidden strings pulled by Satan himself...
The next day, Biff Loman awoke to a much different scenery than the humid American South. What had before been the quaint Mississippi River was now the streets of industrious, urban Moscow.
“Papa! Me scared!” Biff whined, running towards his father. “Open eyes! Open eyes! Biff scared!”
Reluctantly, Willy Loman rose from his restful sleep, rolling his eyes to tend to whatever was tormenting Biff.
“Holy good graces!” Willy shouted in shock after seeing that their ship was clearly stranded in Moscow. “How did we end up here?!”
It didn't take long for the rest of the passengers to see that the ship was indeed not moving.
“Biff!!!” Willy yelled. “Go see what's going on! I'll stay here.”
Biff scurried outside to see what had occurred.
With Biff safely out of the way, Abigail knew it was time to strike.
She knocked on the door, awaiting for Willy to answer it.
“Mr. Loman...” Abigail purred in her silkiest voice. “I know it is rater odd for me to ask, but I was wondering if you happened to have a pair of stockings I could borrow. I know you're a salesman and I figured a man like you would be more than well-stocked...”
“Ehm,” Willy Loman stated, visibly agitated as he pulled on the collar of his shirt. “I may have some, yes.”
He looked in his suitcase thereafter, handing Abigail his wife's only pair of stockings.
“Thank you kindly.” Abigail replied, taking the garment from him. “You're such a sweet, helpful man...”
“Well, I /am/ a salesman.” Willy smiled, blushing furiously.
“I know.” Abigail smiled in turn. “You must be /so/ well-respected. I mean, a salesman is a very important profession, to be taken seriously. I sure respect a salesman...”
“Really?” Willy asked, looking into Abigail's eyes.
“Of course.” Abigail affirmed. “Why wouldn't I? They're so spectacularly persuasive and so well-liked...”
Then, without warning, Willy Loman kissed Abigail Williams. It was a short yet passionate kiss, which forever sealed his fate.
“Mr. Loman!” Abigail giggled.
Suddenly, Biff stormed into the room.
“I find shiny coin on street, pa-!” Biff started, only to be silenced by what he saw.
“Biff!” Willy swiftly exclaimed. “I can explain!”
“Noooo!!!” Biff shouted, a mix of despair and fury in his voice. “Papa bad man! Papa give lady mama big socks!”
“No, Biff! I was just letting the lady try them on!” Willy attempted to explain. “I am a salesman, son! The poor girl needed a pair of stockings!”
“MAMA BIG SOCKS!!!” Biff repeated, hysterically running out into the cold streets of Moscow.
“I probably should go get him...” Willy sighed, giving Abigail an apologetic glance.
“The rest of us shall come with you,” Abigail replied, pretending to sound helpful.
They gathered Tom Joad and Arthur Dimmesdale, setting out to find Biff.
“Biff!” Willy called out, a pang of guilt tugging at his chest as he walked. “Biff!! Where are you!?”
They looked and looked, but Biff was nowhere in sight. They did, however, spot a large mob of people marching through the otherwise barren street.
“We're on a 'witch hunt' for filthy Capitalist scum! We will kill them all!” The angry crowd unanimously chanted in Russian.
“Excuse me...” Willy pulled a man from the crowd. “I'm Willy Loman, a respected salesman, and I'm looking for my son, Biff. Have you seen him?”
“Capitalist!!!” One of the crowd's men, who could understand and speak English, declared. “In the name of Lenin, KILL HIM!!!”
The crowd furiously ran towards Willy, prepared to trample him. It was then that Biff emerged from his hiding place, attempting to save his father from the oncoming horde. Abigail stood by, not lifting a finger.
“Papa, nooo!!!” Biff howled, bravely placing himself between the crowd and Willy, intending (quite pointlessly) to shield him. It was in that magnificent moment of moronic daring that Willy saw a bit of himself in Biff's determined spirit.
However, Biff was no match for the mob of angry Russians, who effortlessly crushed them both in an impressive instant. Abigail was unmoved.
“They's dead!” Tom Joad noted. “They's brave alright. My Oklahoma fambly woulda dun the same fer me...”
“What will we do now?” Dimmesdale asked. “They're both dead, and we're the only ones left...”
“Well, I's needs to find a job.” Tom Joad answered.
“I'll help you find a job,” Abigail said, leading Tom Joad away from Dimmesdale.
Together, they wandered Moscow, searching for Joad's job until they reached a promising-looking steel factory.
Abigail helped Tom Joad ace his interview, and he was hired that day. Afterwards, they went for a stroll.
“So... what's the Dust Bowl like?” Abigail asked Tom as they walked along.
“It's dusty, and bowly, but I likes it there. Ma Joad always made sure we was alright, and the Joads, we is as close like close could be.” Tom answered, a small tear in his eye.
“I see.” Abigail replied, looking at the ground with a timid air. “I had an uncle, but aside from him, I know no family...”
“That's sad.” Tom frowned. “I knows Ma would like you...”
“You really think so?” Abigail inquired in faux innocence.
“Yeap.” Tom Joad nodded. “And I knows I's really like ya too...”
With that aid, he gave her a soft, chaste kiss, unknowing of the doom that would soon follow.
“We should get back.” Abigail stated, looking away. “It's getting late.”
“Yeah's is.” Tom Joad said, looking at the Moscow sunset. “I likes this Moscow place. Folks here's real nice to us poor. Communisam, they calls it. Sometin' bout giving to the poor. I likes that. I likes that a whole lot...”
Together, they walked back to the stranded ship, and everyone once again went to bed.
That night, Abigail was visited by another spectral being, this one being the ghost of the slave Tituba.
“Abigail Williams!” Tituba hissed.
“Who goes there!?” Abigail cried.
“It is I, Tituba, from Barbados!” Tituba howled. “Remember me?!”
Abigail gazed at the ghastly figure, stricken with pure horror.
“Look at me, you rotten child! I still have the noose from the gallows wrapped around my neck! And you still have my blood on your hands!” Tituba remarked with fury. “But you, you are the fool in the end!”
Abigail dared not speak to the spectre.
“John Proctor is dead, child!” Tituba stated. “He, too, perished in the gallows, and his death is entirely your fault!”
“No!!! It can't be!” Abigail sobbed. “Satan himself promised to bring him to me!”
“Foolish child, can't you see?” Tituba laughed. “You've been deceived!”
She then evanesced into thin air, leaving nothing but a distraught Abigail to cry for the remainder of the chilly night.
The following morning, news arrived of Tom Joad's death. He had suffered an accident at the steel factory during his first shift, crushed to death by machinery.
Dimmesdale was surprised over the news, Abigail was too immersed in her own sorrow to care.
“What's the matter?” Dimmesdale asked Abigail, frowning slightly. “Sure, Joad's death is sad, but I never imagined you cared for him so much...”
“It's not that...” Abigail shook her head, her cheeks tear-strained. “Revered, I have something to confess.”
Dimmesdale looked surprised at Abigail's sudden statement.
“Go on, dear.” Dimmesdale replied with tenderness. “I'll listen.”
“Reverend, I loved a man, once.” Abigail admitted. “His name was John Proctor. He was married, but Reverend, I just loved him so! I did everything in my power to be close to him. I killed so many people. Satan came to me, Reverend, and promised me John's love in exchange for souls.”
“Satan came to you?” Dimmesdale asked, holding his chest with his hand.
“Yes, Reverend.” Abigail nodded sadly. “He said that, in exchange for those unfortunate souls, John would come to me and be in love with me. So I accepted his offer. Reverend, the fact that all these people died during this voyage is no accident. I can assure you of that.”
Dimmesdale gazed at the young girl, unsure of what she spoke.
“But last night, the ghost of a slave woman, Tituba, came to me...” Abigail went on to say. “She told me John was dead and she looked so hideous, I thought she'd take my soul right down to Hell with her! Reverend, I was so scared!”
“It's alright, dear Abigail.” Dimmesdale whispered, holding her in his arms. “I have seen him too, and I too have caused sin to occur. I have seen what the Devil is capable of. I created a child with a married woman, and shamefully let her take the fall. I am not without sin, as the Church would have you believe.”
“Reverend?” Abigail looked to Dimmesdale, her eyes watery and red. “How is it that such chaos can result from a feeling like love?”
“I don't know, Abigail.” Dimmesdale answered truthfully. “I suppose it's that sort of thing that makes us human.”
“I just don't understand sometimes...” Abigail sighed.
“Me either.” Dimmesdale replied, still holding her close.
“Like the voyage, Reverend...” She sated.
“Please. Call me Arthur.” Dimmesdale interrupted, uncomfortable with being addressed as Reverend after what he had just confessed.
“Like this voyage, Arthur.” Abigail continued. “What did I hope to find here? I saw the rest of them, the people who came on board with us, and they all seemed to find what they were looking for in the end. Holden found his ducks, Willy found himself in his son's spirit, Biff found a call to action, Tom Joad found a job, and even Tituba found freedom—sort of.” Abigail frowned. “Bit I didn't come here to find anything. I came here to escape. To escape New England, Puritan, life, and my past. I came here, to escape everything...”
“As did I, my sweet Abigail.” Dimmesdale answered, ashamed. “I, too, departed as an empty soul with no purpose, escaping New England, Puritan life, and the shame my past has brought about. I am every bit as guilty as you of coming here without any purpose.”
Abigail fell silent, touched by the Reverend's candidness.
“In truth, I am not unlike you at all.” He went on. “Neither of us spoke of our true unrighteousnesss. We both pretended to be saintly, wholly moral people, but dear Abigail, there is no such thing. You and I are but mere mortals with ugly histories, and uncertain futures. We tried to escape it all, for better or for worse...”
Abigail held Dimmesdale, burying her face in his chest.
“We tried to evade it all. In a way, we partly succeeded. We escaped New England, we even escaped our Puritan brethren. Bud did we ever really escape ourselves?” Dimmesdale mused.
Abigail shook her head.
“No, we didn't.” Dimmesdale concluded. “Our past still looms over our heads like a dark cloud, and Abigail, we shall never escape it. Regardless of what we attempt to do, it will remain where it is—in our memories. But we can overcome it...”
Abigail suddenly looked up, intrigued.
“There is still the future. Though you lament having come without a purpose, I find such a thing to be a blessing, now.” Dimmesdale said. “The future holds the key and I am certain I will find it, but I want you to come with me. I want you, Abigail Williams.”
“I want you too, Arthur.” Abigail stated, holding Dimmesdale's hand.
“Then kiss me.” Dimmesdale gave her a sultry glance.
“I can't.” Abigail cried, looking away. “If I kiss you, you'll surely die...”
“The air was charged with an electric passion as time paused for a single, eternal moment.
“Then let me perish without regret, for once in my life....” Dimmesdale declared, gluing his gaze to Abigail's as he kissed her deeply.