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Communications

A One Act Play for Two Characters

by F. David Peat

SCENE

Lights up. A man alone 

			HE
	You know, it's a strange thing but I've been 
	feeling very... well, I suppose disoriented is the 
	best word.  Yes, disoriented.  Let me try to...  
	Look, have you ever tried going to a movie in the 
	middle of the afternoon?  You're sitting there, all 
	by yourself, in the dark, totally absorbed... lost.  
	And then the movie's over and it's time to get out of 
	your seat.  Suddenly you're outside, in the sun 
	again.  But now it's so bright that you have to screw 
	up your eyes against the light.  Inside you'd 
	forgotten all about the streets and the people, but 
	now everything seems strange.  No... strange is the 
	wrong word.  More... unfamiliar.  That's it... 
	unfamiliar, alien.  It's as if you'd never quite seen 
	it all before.  Just for that instant, when your 
	first step outside.(beat)

	Am I making sense out of all this?  It's... well.  
	It's been like this ever since she...(beat)

	I've been having this dream lately, the same one.  It 
	always seems to start around three in the morning.  
	It must be then because afterwards I wake up and the 
	clock on the radio says 3:30.  Night after night, the 
	same dream at the same time.

	I'm in my office in the...(beat)  No, that's still 
	not right.  It's not really like a dream at all.  I'm 
	really there.  I can feel the edge of my desk.  
	There's the telephone.  There's the computer.  
	Everything's right.  In perfect detail.  I'm doing 
	some work... it's... er... it's a letter.  Yes, I'm 
	writing a letter to...  And now I look up.  Suddenly 
	I'm outside.  I'm floating, floating outside my 
	window, right there on the seventeenth floor.  And... 
	yes, there's a rope, a rope tied around my waist and 
	it's going down, down.  Someone's holding on to it... 
	at the other end.  I can't see who.  It's warm up 
	here.  I can see all the traffic in the street below.  
	Look, there's the chip wagon.  All those tiny 
	people...  Floating, floating, and the rope going 
	down.  I wonder who...?

	My God, she's let go.

	That's when I wake up.  In the middle of the night.  
	3:30.  I can't get to sleep again.  Well, could you 
	if you'd been floating over the city?  My mind's 
	all...  It's agitated.  Too many thoughts chasing 
	round and round after each other... nothing to hold 
	on to.

	I don't know what it means... that dream, floating.  
	I suppose it all happened after...  Look, there was 
	this woman, after Diane. (woman enters, carrying 
	books)

	We were together for... God, it's hard to think now.  
	But I can still remember that day I first saw her, 
	thinking, this is it, this is forever.

(he backs and bumps into the woman. her books fall)

			SHE
	Hell!

			HE
	Oh, I'm sorry.

			SHE
	Just look.

			HE
	Please.  Let me...

			SHE
	No, it's...

			HE
	It's all my fault...

			SHE
	Oh, not really. (pause)  Oh, no.

			HE
	Look...they've got all wet.  (he begins to wipe 
	them on his jacket)

			SHE
	Let me.

			HE
	No.  No, please, let me.

			SHE
	Oh, well.  Thank you.

			HE
	Here.

(pause)

			SHE
	Well...

			HE
	Good as new.  They'll be good as new.  I don't 
	think they'll...

			SHE
	They're only books.

			HE
	Well.

(pause)

			SHE
	Look, I've got to go.

			HE
	Yes. Of course.

			SHE
	Well?

			HE
	Yes.  (anything to keep her there)

			SHE
	Look., I've got to go.

			HE
	No.  Yes.  (shouts after her)  
	Look...I'll...We... er....Don't be late for work.  
	(to himself)  Oh, what a dumb thing to say.


SCENE

She is at the bus stop.  He enters and sees her. 

			HE
	Yes!  Didn't I?

			SHE
	What?

			HE
	A while ago.  I bumped into you.  You dropped 
	your books.

			SHE
	Oh.  Was that you?

			HE
	I'm really sorry.

			SHE
	It doesn't matter.

(beat)

			SHE
	Did you?

			HE
	(over)  Are you?

(they laugh)

			HE
	Sorry.

			SHE
	No, you.

			HE
	I was just going to ask you.  Oh, it's nothing.  
	It doesn't matter really.

			SHE
	Oh.  (pause)  You could wait forever for a bus.

			HE
	Yes.  There're terrible.  Sometimes it's wicker 
	to quark..er..wicker to walk.  That's if you like a 
	good work...walk.

			SHE
	It'd be a long quark for me.

			HE
	(laughing)  So you don't quark to work then?  
	(pause)  I saw that book.

			SHE
	Look, there's a bus coming.

			HE
	That book you dropped.

			SHE
	Can you make out the number?

			HE
	It'll be very crowded.  Look, I wanted to ask 
	you about that book.

			SHE
	It's a real library around here.

			HE
	Do you really want to stand on a bus?

			SHE
	I suppose I could quark.

			HE
	Why not?

			SHE
	Better than taking a book.

(they begin to exit together)

			HE
	About that book...that book you dropped.  It's 
	the most fantastic book I've ever....

(he exits. she turns back to address the audience)

			SHE
	There's something you've got to realize.  About 
	him.  About what made me stop.  Not anything he said.  
	After all, who'd do for all that talk?  What a line!  
	There's no way I'm going to stop and talk to every 
	man who gives me the eye at a bus stop.  No.  It must 
	have been...something that flashed though.  Just for 
	a moment.  Now, don't get me wrong.  It wasn't sex.  
	Nothing like that.  It must have been...He told me 
	once about a girl he'd met, when he was a teenager.  
	A moment of pure concentration.  Maybe it was 
	something like that?

(he enters)

	Maybe that's what I picked up from him.

			HE
	I was sitting beside a tennis court... just a 
	few friends, sitting together, not talking, watching 
	the tennis.

			SHE
	It was summer.  One of those hot lazy days.

			HE
	There was this girl.  I'd been looking at her,. 
	glancing at her out of the corner of my eye.

			SHE
	She came and sat down beside him, without 
	saying anything.

			HE
	She had a white blouse on.  Everything came 
	into focus. Into total sharpness.  Each hair on her 
	arm, the grass beside her legs.  It was as if 
	everything, every particle of the world was vibrating 
	with life.  I could hear the blood pulsing under her 
	skin.

			SHE
	She sat down beside him.  He could feel the 
	blood pulsing under her skin.

			HE
	I put out my arm, beside her.  We 
	just...touched...  I could feel the whole of her body 
	through that touch.  It was as if time had stopped.  
	I could hear each one of her thoughts.

			SHE
	The intensity became too much.

			HE
	She took away her arm.

			SHE
	Everything came back to normal.

			HE
	I must have felt sweaty or something.  We never 
	even spoke.  We didn't even go out together.

			SHE
	I don't suppose he even remembers her name.  
	For all I know he made the whole thing up.  But 
	something must have made me stop.  Something must 
	have made me go on talking to him.  Something must 
	have started the whole thing off.

(dark)

SCENE

They sit together playing a game.

			SHE
	Kate Bush.

			HE
	Billy Holliday.

			SHE
	Cocoa.

			HE
	Cocoa?

			SHE
	Yes, hot chocolate.

			HE
	Wood fires.

			SHE
	Moonlight walks.

			HE
	A loon on the lake.

			SHE
	A Colville painting.

			HE
	Strawberries and champagne.

			SHE
	Tandori chicken and Guiness.

(they both laugh)

			SHE
	Woody Allen.

			HE
	No, foul.  You're not allowed Woody Allen.

			SHE
	And you're not allowed Laurel and Hardy either.

(they laugh)

			SHE
	Do you want to know what's the most beautiful 
	thing in the world?

			HE
	What's the most beautiful thing in the world?

			SHE
	First guess where it is.

			HE
	Oh, I know where it is.

			SHE
	No, seriously.  I'm not joking.  (pause)   
	It's here, in this city.

			HE
	You're serious?

			SHE
	You still think I'm joking, don't you?  Well 
	guess.  The most beautiful thing in the world is at 
	the National gallery.  Guess what it is.

			HE
	A fire extinguisher.  Twenty bricks.  A piece 
	of felt.

			SHE
	No.  It's a painting.  By Hans Memling.  It's a 
	painting of the Virgin and child and its like looking 
	into the heart of a jewel.  I used to go and see it 
	in my lunch hour.  It's like visiting an old friend.  
	I'd just stand in front of it and look.  This one 
	painting.  None of the others.  It's not very big, 
	you know...but it's...it's like the whole universe.  
	Everything's so clear.  And the colours...they're so 
	intense.  You don't say anything when you look at it.  
	You don't even want to think.  (pause)   Come on, 
	I'll show you.

			HE
	Now?

			SHE
	Yes, right now.  Together.  I want us to go 
	together.  I want us to stand in front of the most 
	beautiful thing in the world.  Just the two of us.

			HE
	Then take me.

(cross fade)

SCENE

Evening. They are together in front of a fire.

			SHE
	It's just right, isn't it.  This evening.  In 
	front of the fire.

			HE
	Mmmmm

			SHE
	Just the two of us together.

			HE
	A good meal and a big fire.

			SHE
	You like it here, don't you?

			HE
	Mmmm

			SHE
	Just the two of us.

			HE
	Mmmmm

			SHE
	Are you happy?

			HE
	Hhmmmmm.  (pause)  Very happy,.

			SHE
	That's good.  (pause)  I'm happy too...  (beat)  
	You do...well,...you do love me...don't you?

			HE
	hmmmm..you know I do.

			SHE
	Yes, bit it's nicer when  you say it.

			HE
	Mmmm?

			SHE
	...out loud. Just say it.

			HE
	I do.

			SHE
	You...

			HE
	I love you.

			SHE
	That feels good.  You saying it.  Here.  Kisses 
	him 

			HE
	I feel so drowsy after that meal.  I could 
	sleep forever.

			SHE
	Really and truly?

			HE
	Forever

			SHE
	No, really and truly you love me.

			HE
	Mmmmmm...yes.

			SHE
	More than anything?  More than anything in the 
	whole world?

			HE
	Mmmm

			SHE
	(laughs)  That's crazy.  You can't love me more 
	than the whole world.  You don't know the whole 
	world.

			HE
	Well, most of the world then, Canada, London, 
	Rome...more than Rome.

			SHE
	You...

			HE
	That should be enough for now.  When I've had a 
	good sleep I'll think about New Zealand and possibly 
	Asia...I'll let you know how I get on.

			SHE
	You're funny.

			HE
	Hmmm

			SHE
	You're funny when you're not lecturing me and 
	playing records at me.

			HE
	Me?

			SHE
	Yes, you.

			HE
	Mmmm

			SHE
	I love you, you know.

			HE
	Mmmm

			SHE
	I love just being here, with you.  Just the two 
	of us, here in front of the fire.

			HE
	Hmmm

			SHE
	We get on so well together.  We share things.  
	We listen to each other.  We communicate.

			HE
	My God!  (jumps up)

			SHE
	What is it?

			HE
	We didn't put out the cat.

			SHE
	But we don't have a cat.

			HE
	That's just it.  But what if we did?

			SHE
	What?

			HE
	I can't stand the uncertainty of it.  Not 
	knowing if we've got a cat.

			SHE
	(laughing)  You're crazy.

			HE
	On, no.  I just can't put up with any more 
	talking.  Too much talking.  I'm going to shut you up 
	for good.  (he advances, stalks and chases her)  I'm 
	going to shut you up.

			SHE
	No...don't.

			HE
	No more talking.  No more questions.  You'll 
	never utter another world.  This is it.  This is 
	action.

			SHE
	No you don't.

			HE
	I'm going to catch you...no more talking.

			SHE
	You'll never take me alive.

			HE
	Got you.

			SHE
	That's a trick...you creep.

			HE
	I'm stronger than you are.

			SHE
	No, you're not.

			HE
	My God.  You're right.  (more play)  But I'm 
	craftier.  Now...give in.

			SHE
	Bastard.

			HE
	Surrender.

			SHE
	Creep.  Old man.  Dirty old man.

			HE
	Very dirty.  Now surrender.

			SHE
	For now.

			HE
	No more words.

			SHE
	Never.  Never.  Never

			HE
	No...no more words.  (they kiss)  No more "I 
	love you". No past, no future, no comparisons.  Just 
	today.  Just this one moment.

			SHE
	Just today.

			HE
	I love you.  What does that mean?  It's all 
	been said before.  I don't want to be trapped into 
	someone else's past.  Do you understand me.  I don't 
	want you to compare me.

			SHE
	No more words.

			HE
	I just want you.  No more memories.

			SHE
	Nothing.  Open the windows, let out the stale 
	air.  We'll be like a cold stream in the spring.

			SHE & HE
	(overlapping)  No more words.  I agree...I 
	agree.

			HE
	I...

			SHE
	No.

			HE
	I...

She puts her hand to touch his face.  She takes his 
hand and brings it to her face.

			SHE
	Begin with that.  Only that.

(dark)

SCENE

A cottage.  The man is dozing in bed, the woman runs 
in with a dance of joy.

			SHE
	God, what a morning.  I've been up for hours.  
	You should have seen it, the sun coming up behind the 
	trees and over the lake.  Fantastic.  And just look 
	at you lying there...  You've slept through the whole 
	thing.  Come on.  Let's go for a swim.

			HE
	God, I love it when you do that.

			SHE
	What?

			HE
	When you spin around like that.

			SHE
	So, what's so great about it?

			HE
	It's so...it's what I love about you.  You can 
	be so spontaneous, so unaffected.

			SHE
	Big words for such a clear morning.

			HE
	I brought Diane up here.  But it was all 
	perfume and make-up with her.  She couldn't get into 
	the whole thing.  She  didn't know how to respond.

			SHE
	And I do?

			HE
	(laughs)  Don't worry about Diane, she's long 
	gone.  It's just, something suddenly reminded me. 
	This gesture she used to make with her 
	hands...affected.  It really used to bug me, grate on 
	my nerves.  I couldn't see you doing anything like 
	that.  It's not in your nature.  Of course, once or 
	twice she'd try to get up early and go outside.  I 
	remember one morning  (pause)  She came in from the 
	lake and tried to do this little dance of joy.  Of 
	course it didn't work.  Well, it wasn't her sort of 
	thing...  It's all a matter of co-ordination I 
	suppose.  (pause)  Well, what are you sitting down 
	for?  Get up, come on, let's go.  Let's go out for a 
	swim.

			SHE
	No. It's suddenly gone cold.

(dark)

SCENE

A fast-food restaurant.

			SHE
	Would you say I was fat?

			HE
	Fat?  No, you're not fat.  (beat)  Not fat.

			SHE
	Well, would you say I was thin then?

			HE
	Er...

			SHE
	No, seriously.  I'm serious.  Would you say I 
	was thin?

			HE
	Thin?  You couldn't say...not exactly thin, 
	but...

			SHE
	Go on.

			HE
	Well, you're...just right.  You're...erm... 
	nicely built.

			SHE
	Built!

			HE
	No...not exactly, more...

			SHE
	Well built?

			HE
	No.  I didn't mean anything like that.  You're 
	just, well... You're just right, not too fat, no, not 
	fat at all and... er... not too thin.  Well, you 
	couldn't exactly say you were skinny, could you?  
	You're not emaciated...  Not one of those anorexics.

			SHE
	Just right?

			HE
	That's it.  (laughs)  Just right.  Just right 
	for me.

			SHE
	Then I'm not as fat as that woman over there?

			HE
	God, no.  She's really fat.

			SHE
	Just right?  Well... now... that other one, the 
	one going over to that table.

			HE
	Look, I've told you.  You're not fat.  She's 
	fat... just look at her.  This is ridiculous.

			SHE
	All right.  Well, tell me then.  Point someone 
	out.  Go on, point to someone who looks just like me.  
	Someone that's just right.

			HE
	Well... No, that's stupid.  I can't... I mean, 
	I can't find someone who looks exactly like you.

			SHE
	I didn't say exactly.  Just someone who looks 
	approximately like me.  (pause)  Well?  Go on.

			HE
	Well... er...  No, this is crazy.

			SHE
	There's no point to my trying is there.  
	There's no point to my going on a diet.  Not if you 
	won't tell me.  I just want to be objective about it 
	all.

			HE
	Objective?

			SHE
	Yes, objective.  Scientific.  Detached.

			HE
	Oh, well.  In that case.  Let me see...hang on.  
	That one over there.  The one just coming in the 
	door.  The blond with the white sweater.

			SHE
	The tight white sweater?

			HE
	Yes, she looks pretty good, doesn't she.  She's 
	about your shape.

			SHE
	And I look like that, do I?

			HE
	What?  Well... no, not quite then... er not 
	exactly.

			SHE
	God, what's the point.  I wonder why I don't 
	let myself go for good, wear polyester suits and 
	tennis shoes.  God, I knew you'd say that.  I knew 
	you'd pick her.  Go on then.  Buy me a Whopper and a 
	double order of French fries.  I may as well give up 
	all together.  I don't know why we go out together.  
	I don't even know why we're sitting here.

			HE
	But what did I say?

(dark)

SCENE

She sits looking through a magazine.  He stands and 
speaks to the audience 

			HE
	Silence.  It all seemed to happen in silence.  
	In the end the deepest things seem to take place in 
	the spaces between words

			SHE
	"You'll have my heart forever".  He just sat 
	there, looking at me, and he said, "You'll have my 
	heart forever."  How corny.  (reading)  "The lights 
	flickered, the floor began to tilt and my ears popped 
	like I was in an elevator that was dropping too 
	fast."  Who do they think we are?  Does anyone really 
	fall for that stuff anymore?

			HE
	She was sitting across from me... there.  Of 
	course we'd met before a couple of times, downtown 
	and at the bus stop.  I'd even walked her home once.  
	But that evening, the time it really happened.  We 
	were sitting in this restaurant together.  Talking  
	(beat)  Now I come to think of it, I can't even 
	remember what we said to each other.  It can't have 
	been really important.  Just talk... you know.  
	Laughing, talking about things we both liked.  
	(pause)  Then suddenly she stopped and began to look 
	down at her hands.  It was the suddenness of the 
	silence that did it. Everything seemed so quiet.  As 
	if all the sounds of the restaurant were blotted out.  
	And then she looked at me.  That silence must have 
	gone on for minutes.  People must have been looking 
	at us, they must have been wondering what happened.  
	As if we'd been arguing or something.

			SHE
	I know that none of it means anything. "My 
	heart forever".  It's just words.  Isn't it?  Words.  
	That's what they're so good at... men.  They put 
	together a whole world out of words, don't they, a 
	whole universe.  Words of love like "my heart 
	forever".  Think about it.  If you know how to use 
	words you can do anything.  The constitution.  The 
	Declaration of Independence.  A declaration of war.  
	And, yes, the Pope blessing all those pilgrims in 
	Rome.  It's all words when you come down to it.  When 
	they start stringing words together they've got us in 
	the palms of their hands.  Mesmerized.

			HE
	And then she lifted up her head and looked at 
	me, straight into my face.  It was so strange, that 
	silence.  No words.  Just looking into my eyes.  As 
	if everything in the universe had shrunk down to a 
	tiny, single point Her eyes...looking at me.  And 
	then she said to me, she said "It's your life.  I 
	don't want to make trouble for you."  Just like that.  
	Out of the blue.  (pause)  Now why would she say a 
	thing like that?

			SHE
	Just sitting there.  Looking at me.  "You'll 
	have my heart forever."  He threw his words over me 
	like a net.  There's no going back now.  I had to 
	believe him.  "My heart forever."

			HE
	I've been thinking about that lately.  I've 
	been working out a sort of theory... about what 
	happens between a man and a woman.  You see there's 
	always this point of contact... no, this moment of 
	contact.  That's when everything really happens.  
	That's what really counts.  It has to be something 
	very fast... a high sped message between two... 
	er...er...

			SHE
	Computers?

			HE
	Yes, that's it.  Computers.  No.  No, it's not 
	like that at all.  It's more like...  It's...

			SHE
	Two ships that pass in the night?

			HE
	That's it... you see there's these two ships.  
	(arranges a chair, jumps on it, it's his ship)  Two 
	ships in the night.  In the middle of the ocean.  Out 
	there it's all waves and stuff.  Night.  Sailing 
	alone in the middle of the night.  When suddenly.  
	Out of the blue there comes...

			SHE
	(makes the sound of a fog horn)

			HE
	A light.  A flashing light.

			SHE
	Oh!  Flash.  Flash.  Flash

			HE
	There's something out there... yes, a point of 
	contact.  Another human being.  (he shuffles his 
	chair nearer to her)  You get closer... and closer... 
	and closer.  It's a...

			SHE
	A lighthouse.

			HE
	My God, I'm nearly on the rocks.  Hard a port.  
	Full speed astern.  Beep.  Beep.  Belay the marlin 
	spike.  All hands on deck.  (aside)  I'm really 
	enjoying this.  Now where was I?

			SHE
	You're alone.  In the ocean.  In the middle of 
	the night.  Standing on a chair.

			HE
	Yes, that's it.  Alone.  In the ocean.  The 
	blackness of the night.  When suddenly... suddenly...  
	(gives her the cue again)  When suddenly...

			SHE
	Oh,  (makes fog horn noise)

			HE
	A light.

			SHE
	Oh, yes.  Flash.  Flash

			HE
	You see this flashing light.  It's another 
	ship.  Another human being.  Another..

			SHE
	Chair.

			HE
	And you come closer and closer.  You've 
	touched.  You've connected.  But nothing has to be 
	said.  No words.  Only afterwards you know that 
	something real has happened.  Things change between 
	you.  You'll never be the same.  That's what counts.  
	That's contact.

			SHE
	For God's sake, could we stop playing around 
	like this and go to bed.

(dark)

SCENE

In bed.  Giggles. Making love? Lights up.

			SHE
	You know those men?

			HE
	What men?

			SHE
	Look, I've got something to tell you.  You know 
	those boyfriends I had...  the ones before I met you?

			HE
	The one in Jamaica?

			SHE
	Yes... and the others... at university.  And 
	the ones in the bar.

			HE
	Yes?

			SHE
	Well...

			HE
	There aren't any more are there?

			SHE
	Well, that's just it.

			HE
	What?

			SHE
	I made it all up.

			HE
	What?

			SHE
	I made it all up.

			HE
	You what?

			SHE
	All of them.  Well, none of them.  There 
	weren't any.  I didn't sleep with any of them.  I 
	made the whole thing up.

			HE
	You?  (pause)  Oh, come on now. I don't believe 
	you.  You're just telling me that.

			SHE
	No.  Honestly.  I just made it all up.

			HE
	But... but what about the English professor, 
	Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?  Lying naked 
	together by the lake.  You didn't make that up.

			SHE
	Oh him.  He was horrible.

			HE
	Ah Haaa

			SHE
	No, he was just terrible period.  A dead bore.

			HE
	Well, the man from that ministry.  What about 
	him?  You couldn't have made all that up.  With the 
	whipped cream?  Look, I've even met him.  I've  
	talked to him.  I even shook his hand.

			SHE
	We did go out a few times together.

			HE
	And?

			SHE
	We just went out a few times, got kissing and 
	that.

			HE
	And then?  (pause)  No, I don't believe a word 
	of it.  It must have happened.  I mean... you 
	couldn't keep away from them, could you?  You must 
	have.

			SHE
	I had to have something to tell you, didn't I?  
	I had to have something  You and your bloody Diane.  
	You never shut up about her.

			SHE
	Hang on... wait a minute.  I've got you.  The 
	Rumanian with the villa.

			SHE
	The one who flew me to Italy for the weekend.

			HE
	That him.

			SHE
	I made him up.

			HE
	Then you're a bloody liar.  I don't believe 
	you.

			SHE
	I did.  None of that ever happened.

			HE
	It did.  You couldn't...  You're not smart 
	enough...  You don't have the imagination.  It must 
	have happened. 

			SHE
	Look, I made them all up just to give you a bit 
	of a thrill.  Well?  It worked didn't it?  I mean, 
	after all, why should you be the only one to make up 
	stories?

			HE
	But mine are...  I mean...  Well for a start 
	it's bloody dishonest.  It's deceitful.

			SHE
	Sorry.

			HE
	I... I can't trust what you say.  I'll never be 
	able to trust you again.

			SHE
	I'm telling you the truth.  I didn't sleep with 
	them.  I hardly went out with them.  Nothing ever 
	happened.

			HE
	Ok... Ok... Ok...  (pause)  No, hang on.  Look, 
	how do I know you're telling me the truth now?  I 
	mean you could have slept with all of them... could 
	you?  You could have slept with all of them and now 
	you're just telling me that you didn't...  That it... 
	I'll never know  (pause)  My God, you're bloody 
	devious.

			SHE
	Well.  If it makes you any happier.

			HE
	On, no.  It doesn't make me happier.  It 
	doesn't matter to me at all.  But at least now I know 
	where I stand.  At least I know how far I can trust 
	you.

			SHE
	Ok.  If it makes you happy.  Yes, I did.  I 
	screwed the lot.

			HE
	Right.  (long pause)  Did you really?

			SHE
	(looks at him)

(dark)

SCENE

A car.  The man in the driver's seat, the woman sits 
beside him.  She looks under the seat.

			SHE
	Oh God, will you look at this.  It's a 
	Penthouse.

			HE
	Is it?

			SHE
	A bloody Penthouse.

			HE
	Oh, I suppose it must be Tom's, he borrowed the 
	car.

			SHE
	It was stuck under the seat.  Let's see... 
	Hmmmm.  "June is busting out all over."  Why do men 
	need to look at pictures like these?

			HE
	You mean the cars or the stereos?

			SHE
	God, look at this one.  She's got no shame.  
	(pause)  Well?  Aren't you going to tell me?

			HE
	What?  Well... I suppose... it sort of turns 
	them on... some men.

			SHE
	Turns them on?  They burn things like this at 
	the customs, you know.

			HE
	Not Penthouse.

			SHE
	Does it turn you on?

			HE
	What?

			SHE
	Does it?  (flashes magazine at him)  This one.  
	Look at her. Does she turn you on?

			HE
	Oh.  That one... here.  Well, I suppose I could 
	say she's attractive.  Some men go for women like 
	that.  After all, she's got a good figure.  Doesn't 
	she?

			SHE
	I didn't ask about that.  I didn't ask about 
	the size of her boobs.  I said, does she turn you on?

			HE
	Me?  Oh, well... I don't know.  I haven't 
	really looked.  I... well... I suppose she's good 
	looking... attractive. I suppose.

			SHE
	You suppose.  You suppose she's attractive.  
	Look again. Careful... mind that tree.  Would you 
	like to sleep with her?  Slide into bed with her?  
	Kiss her breasts?  Nibble on her...

			HE
	Hang on.

			SHE
	No.  Would you?

			HE
	Ah... but, well the question doesn't arise, 
	does it?  So to speak.  Well, she's only a 
	photograph.  She's not real.

			SHE
	No, go on.  Fantasize.  You're an intelligent 
	man, you've got a nice office.  Use your imagination.  
	Mind that truck.  Think about her.  Would you?  Does 
	she turn you on?

			HE
	Oh God, you're being stupid.  Look, I've told 
	you.  It's just a magazine.  Right?  It's not my 
	magazine.  It's Tom's magazine.

			SHE
	You used to be such a good driver.

			HE
	It's just a photograph.  She's not real.

			SHE
	You mean you can't even fantasize about her?  
	You can't get all worked up?

			HE
	No.

			SHE
	Nothing at all?  Not even the slightest twitch?  
	Careful.  No pictures in the mind?  Not even when 
	you're in bed with me?

			HE
	My God, not then, especially not then.

			SHE
	Well, I don't understand it then.  I don't see 
	the point of the whole thing.  I don't even know why 
	you hid it.  Why on earth did you buy this magazine 
	in the first place?

(dark)

(long pause to cover his exit)

			SHE
	Men, they never change to they?

SCENE

Woman alone.

			SHE
	There used to be some women.  If you asked them 
	what they really wanted they'd say...  Oh well, a 
	good husband, someone kind and with a good steady 
	job, a nice house, two children.  That sort of thing.  
	Imagine any woman saying that today?  But sometimes, 
	if you've had a few drinks together, after work.  No 
	one would come straight out and say it.  But 
	sometimes, after a few drinks.

	But imagine anyone being able to think that sort of 
	thing today?  Fifty years ago maybe.  But not today.  
	You see we've come so far.  We know there's more to 
	life than that.  Waiting around year after year for 
	some man to come along.  Women used to have this idea 
	of a knight in shining armor.  It's the magazines 
	you've got to blame for that.  All those stories my 
	mother used to read.  But today they've all got three 
	piece suites and brief cases with gold combination 
	locks.  The only castle they can offer you is 
	something with cathedral ceiling and a dwarf's patio 
	in the new development.

	We've all heard that story before.  Haven't we?  
	There's more to life than that.  Men working late at 
	night, off for a game of squash and a few cold ones 
	with the boys.  They're all right.  They're all 
	happy.  Aren't they?  And us?  We've all been set 
	free.  We've been promised so much.  There's no 
	limits any more.  We're going to the moon.  We're 
	strong.  (pause)  There has to be more.

(dark)

SCENE

Evening. Their apartment.  She is looking out of the 
window.

			HE
	Penny for your thoughts.

			SHE
	What?

			HE
	What are you thinking?

			SHE
	Me?

			HE
	Yes. What are you thinking about?  Tell me what 
	you're thinking.

			SHE
	Oh, nothing really.

			HE
	But you must be thinking about something.

			SHE
	No, my mind was a blank.  I wasn't thinking.

			HE
	Look, I could see you thinking.  I could see it 
	all going on.  It was totally obvious that you were 
	thinking.

			SHE
	Oh, my God, not again.

			HE
	You were...  Look, you even said, "not really".  
	When I asked you if you were thinking you said "not 
	really".  Now that implies that you were thinking 
	about something.  I mean if you'd been thinking about 
	nothing you'd have said "nothing".  Not "not really".  
	"Not really" implies that you were thinking about 
	something.  (pause)  Doesn't it?

			SHE
	That's crazy.  I was just sitting here, looking 
	out of the window.

			HE
	Ah haa.  But why?  Let me put something to you.  
	We're sharing our lives together, right?  We live 
	together, right?  It's a relationship, a partnership.  
	Right?  There's an equality to the whole thing.  
	Sharing.  Right?  But how can you sit there and live 
	with me if you refuse to tell me what you were 
	thinking?

			SHE
	My God.

			HE
	Answer me that.

			SHE
	You're totally crazy.

			HE
	Oh, no.  I'm not crazy.  I'm being rational.  
	I'm making a point.

			SHE
	All right.  I was thinking.

			HE
	Good.  (pause)  Well?  Go on.

			SHE
	About that woman at the party last night.

			HE
	Woman?

			SHE
	The one in the corner.  The blond with the 
	bust.

			HE
	Oh?  I hadn't really noticed.

			SHE
	Oh, yes?  Well that does surprise me.  After 
	all you practically had your arm down the front of 
	her dress.

			HE
	Oh come on.  (beat)  Well, anyway she works in 
	Web page design  (beat)  It's a rapidly expanding 
	field.

			SHE
	So that's what I was thinking about.  I'll 
	admit I felt bad about it at the time.  Seeing you in 
	the corner with her.

			HE
	But we were just talking.  It was totally 
	innocent.  You could have come over if you'd wanted.

			SHE
	It's true.  I did feel a little jealous... at 
	the time.

			HE
	Look, I said... I was just...

			SHE
	But then I began to think out the whole thing.  
	I said to myself... well, if all this really doesn't 
	interfere with us.  Well, after all you like to talk 
	to women like that, don't you?

			HE
	Women like what?

			SHE
	You like to get them in dark corners.  All 
	intense.  The understanding older man.  So I 
	thought... why not?

			HE
	It was perfectly innocent... Why not what?

			SHE
	So I made a decision.  I don't mind any more.

			HE
	That.  Well, why shouldn't I talk to women too 
	on the odd occasions? 

			SHE
	That's what I said.

			HE
	There's not harm in it.  No difference really.  
	Anyway I'd forgotten all about her until you brought 
	it up.  She's not even my type.  Why can't there be a 
	friendship between a man and a woman.  After all, 
	it'd be sexist to exclude it, wouldn't it?

			SHE
	I agree.

			HE
	There's nothing to be jealous about.

			SHE
	There's nothing wrong in a man and a woman 
	having a friendship.

			HE
	That's it.

			SHE
	A special relationship.

			HE
	It's natural.  It allows someone to explore his 
	full potential, doesn't it?

			SHE
	Or her full potential?

			HE
	Well... I suppose so.  Why not?

			SHE
	Good.

			HE
	Er... what exactly do you mean by "good"?

			SHE
	Good, about her full potential.

			HE
	Ah.

			SHE
	So that's why I'll be a little late tomorrow.  
	There's this man I've talked to a couple of times.

			HE
	Now, hang on.,

			SHE
	Just at the bus stop.  He seems quite 
	interesting.

			HE
	Oh now, you're not...

			SHE
	And he asked me out for a drink.

			HE
	Hold it right there.  I'm not having you 
	talking to strange men.

			SHE
	Of course I said no at first.  But now I've 
	been thinking over what you said.  Well, why not?

			HE
	Now stop that.
 
			SHE
	So that's all settled.  After all, there's 
	nothing to be jealous about, is there?

			HE
	But you can't.  I... I'm... not having it.

			SHE
	Oh?  But I thought that was the one thing we'd 
	both agreed on?

(dark)

SCENE

The woman alone.

			SHE
	Men are strange aren't they?  You know, when I 
	was a little girl I remember how my father used to 
	stand me on a table in front of his friends.  Now why 
	did I think of that now?  There was this one Sunday 
	evening.  I'd been out skipping and he called me into 
	the den where he'd been playing cards.  All his 
	friends from work were there.  It was all smoky and 
	dark.  Anyway my Dad called me in and he pushed all 
	the glasses and cards to one side, and he lifted me 
	onto the table.  He was very strong.  It was still 
	light outside but my Dad liked to play with the 
	curtains drawn and just a side light on.  So here I 
	am standing on this table in front of all these men, 
	and with the side light angled up and me.  And what 
	d'you think he does?  He makes me recite this stupid 
	poem I'd learned at school.  Me, On a table.  In the 
	middle of the room.  In front of all those men.  
	Doing my party piece.

	The thing I want to know is why.  Why did I do it?  
	Why didn't I say no?  And why did my mother go along 
	with it?  Sometimes I get confused.  People are 
	always telling you things.  First it's your Dad.  
	Then it's your teachers.  Then it's the women's 
	movement.  Always telling you things.  There has to 
	be some freedom somewhere.  Not someone else's 
	freedom.... my freedom.  Always telling us things.  
	Always standing us on tables to perform.

SCENE

At home. Evening.

			HE
	Will you pass me my book.  That one... the 
	biography.

			SHE
	Your book?

			HE
	That one... yes.  I've nearly finished it.

			SHE
	Good for you.  Well here you are then.  Here's 
	your book.

			HE
	Thanks.  (begins to read)

			SHE
	Are you enjoying it?

			HE
	Er... er, yes.

			SHE
	You look so comfortable.  Just reading.  
	Sitting there in your chair, wearing your slippers.  
	You're' having a really good time aren't you?

			HE
	What do you mean?  I'm trying to read  (pause)  
	I've nearly finished.  I've only got a few pages to 
	go  (pause)  I want to finish it.  That's all.,

			SHE
	Go on then.  Finish your book.

			HE
	(gives up)  God.  It's impossible to read with 
	you watching me.

			SHE
	Right.  I'll look away.  I'll even close my 
	eyes.  Go on.

			HE
	(tries again)  My God.

			SHE
	Don't bother about me.  Just finish your book.

			HE
	It's just a bloody book.  It's just a book I'm 
	trying to finish.  God, what's going on?  What do you 
	want?  What have I done now?

			SHE
	Nothing.  You've done nothing at all.  Just 
	finish your book.

			HE
	Oh, I see.  It's got your name in it.  Well 
	your book then.  A book.  The book I happen to be 
	reading that's got your name in it.  It doesn't 
	matter anyway.  It's just a bloody book.

			SHE
	No.  It doesn't matter to you.  It doesn't 
	matter that it's our apartment, our chair, our CDs, 
	our TV.

			HE
	Our book.

			SHE
	Exactly.

			HE
	Good, then I'll finish our book.  I'll sit in 
	our chair and I'll have a good read of our book.

			SHE
	Fine.  Finish it.  Go on, enjoy it.  It just 
	happens to be my book though, and I haven't even read 
	it yet.  And I bought it.

			HE
	Yes, but with our money,

			SHE
	(pause)  I don't understand you.  You used to 
	be so sensitive once.

			HE
	Oh, yes, I know all about that.  I know all 
	about that stuff.  (pause)  And I know what's behind 
	it all.  (pause)  The real problem is that you won't 
	listen.

			SHE
	Oh, not that again.

			HE
	No, that's your basic problem.  It is, isn't 
	it?

			SHE
	Oh please, forget the whole thing.

			HE
	It's easy for you to say just forget it.  It's 
	easy to say.  Isn't it.

			SHE
	Look. can't we just forget the whole thing.  
	I'm sorry.  Can't we drop it?

			HE
	Drop it.  Drop it?  But that's the whole point.  
	You can't drop it.  You're going on and on about it 
	now.  Drop it?  Well I can drop it.  I don't have to 
	carry on and on and on about it.  But can you?  Can 
	you drop it?

			SHE
	Let's try.  Can we?

			HE
	If you think you can, go ahead.  Drop it.  
	(pause)  Just try.

			SHE
	If we could just sit here and not say anything.

			HE
	Sure, right.  (beat)  Well go on.  Don't say 
	anything.  (beat)  God, you're just like that 
	Buddhist monk, aren't you.

			SHE
	Monk?

			HE
	Look, there are these two monks, see.  They 
	meet a woman standing beside the river and she can't 
	get across.  Well, one of these monks picks her up 
	and carries her over on his back.  Anyway the two of 
	them walk on in silence until one of the monks, the 
	one who didn't pick up the woman, he says "you know 
	we're not suppose to touch a woman".  And the other 
	one, he says , "I put her down five miles ago.  Why 
	don't you?"  See?  Get the point?  He dropped it.  
	But you can't let things rest.  My God, you're angry.  
	Just look at you sitting there.  God you're really 
	sick.  You have to keep on and on about things.  Just 
	look at you smoldering.  Damn it... can't you even 
	say something?  Look, I can't take any more of this.  
	I don't have to stand here and listen to you.  I'm 
	going out.  I'm going to the bar.  At least there'll 
	be someone to talk to.  At least I can have a good 
	argument there.

			SHE
	Why?  Why does it have to be like this.  It's 
	not just me.  It's not just him.  It's the whole 
	bloody world.

(dark)

SCENE

The man. Alone.

			HE
	We always go out and eat at the office.  We all 
	pick somewhere and go out together.  Except for the 
	ones who bring these little salads in plastic tubs.  
	Anyway, yesterday, I couldn't take it any longer.  
	I... er... well, I just walked out, left early.  I 
	went to the elevator at around 11.30 and that was it.  
	I just walked.  By myself.  It must have been... 
	what?  two or three hours.  I couldn't stop walking.  
	I had to keep moving.  I never went back to the 
	office.  I didn't even call them.  (pause)  That was 
	yesterday.  (pause)

	I must have got to the market, somehow.  And that's 
	when I saw The Cardinal.  You know, he's a tramp or 
	something.  You must have seen him.  He's all dressed 
	up in scarlet.  People call him The Cardinal.  She 
	always gave him money...  I once thought of stopping 
	and talking to him but, well... well you don't want 
	to get involved with people like that.  They're all a 
	bit crazy.  Anyway I just stopped and watched him.  
	Not directly.  I looked at him though his reflection 
	in a shop window.  Just watched him.  He was standing 
	with his back to the wall and all his possessions 
	were in a shopping cart.  He was playing a tin 
	whistle.  All dressed in red, and every so often 
	people would stop and talk to him.  I thought, I'll 
	go over and give him some money... the price of a 
	drink.  But I couldn't do it.  He looked so... so 
	content.  Just standing there.  If I'd gone over I 
	don't know what would have happened.

(dark)

SCENE

The man continues to look out into the audience.  The 
woman enters on the other side of the stage and looks 
out.

			HE
	(shouts)  Hey....hey...

			SHE
	Oh....What?

			HE
	I said, Hi.

			SHE
	I can't hear you.

			HE
	I said... Hang on.  I'll come over.

			SHE
	What?

			HE
	I... want... to... talk... to... you.

			SHE
	What?  God, I can't hear you with all this 
	traffic.

			HE
	I said... Look, wait there.  I'll come over.

			SHE
	Look out.  Be careful.

			HE
	Hang on.

			SHE
	Look, there's my bus,

			HE
	No!  Wait!  I have to talk to you.

			SHE
	I've got to go.

			HE
	No, Hang on.  (shouts)  Wait!  (beat.  quiet)  
	I want to talk to you.

(dark)


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