Play the Devil
Wilfred Lever, son of ambitious missionaries, is wrenched from his life in an Indian village by a prophecy: he shall be Elijah in his own country. Sent to Adelaide to stay with an embittered and perverted aunt, he is well into adolescence when his family joins him there. In the first manifestation of a burgeoning power complex, he forces himself upon his half-sister Mary, now a deeply desirable young woman. What follows is the beginning of a lifetime of burying secrets beneath the surface of church life. The prophecy seals Wilfred's moral doom as he is given carte blanche to a lifetime of abuses within the auspices of the church. The institutional nature of his life protects him from retribution. A character with no moral compass, he feels himself to be untouchable. He gets away with cheating at Bible College, an affair with his secretary, deeply suspect financial dealings, and eventually an act more disturbing than all of these combined. His wife Lorna, the guiding hand behind the scenes, tolerates Wilfred's corruption and hypocrisy, always with one eye to her social position. The church leadership is willing to prop him up too; church members have any number of skeletons in the closet that can be used to manipulate and silence them when necessary. Everyone, it seems, is onto a good thing, and they all know how to cover their backs. But when Wilfred rapes Mary's daughter, it seems his number is up. Despite his best efforts to hush things up, rumours are circulating about the girl's convenient suicide and his involvement in a financial scandal. Mary plans to kill him. The board forces Wilfred's resignation, but at his lowest point, it seems the prophecy really is true. The church is priming him for politics: all his travails have led him to this moment, where at last he is on the brink of true power.