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2. CONTINUED:

THE TAKING

or

Life Ticks

ACT I SCENE 1 The lights rise on a stage with loosely demarcated sets; a bar with bar stools. MELISSA sits at the bar.  a work cafeteria area with coffee machine and table and chair. CLAUDIA sits at the table. a simple bedroom with side tables. DIANE sits on the bed. a confessional booth; a hatch in a wall with a chair on each side. a psychiatrist's couch and chair; There are two men on stage, GEORGE (38) and PETER (60). George is lying on the couch. He is lying on his side, back to the audience. Peter sits in the chair next to him, with a notepad. Peter wears the smart 3-piece suit of a psychiatrist. George wears a more casual suit, with a small priest's white collar. PETER George. You're being obstreperous. Obstreperous. Have you ever tried to say that? It's a very fun word. (MORE) (CONTINUED)


3. CONTINUED:

PETER (CONT'D) Things might be altogether different for you if you try saying it.

(pause) Let's be clear about things as they stand, then. Just so I understand you correctly. If your conviction is as strong as you say - which, believe me, I'm not here to tell you otherwise - why not leave my office today, grab a packet of pills or a loaded gun and just do it. Why not just do it after our appointment? George turns over and settles himself facing the audience. GEORGE Why not during it? PETER During my session? You want to kill yourself while we're in therapy? GEORGE Sure. Why not? PETER I'd need the cleaner to come in and you'd still have to pay for the full hour. GEORGE It always comes down to money. Peter makes a note. PETER Does it. GEORGE You're writing down that I think it all comes down to money? You'd fill a notebook with my fine observations on this life, Peter. PETER I was reminding myself to pick up fresh eggs on my way home. GEORGE

GEORGE (CONT’D) I'm beyond all that. PETER Beyond eggs? (CONTINUED)


4. CONTINUED: (2) GEORGE Beyond death. Because I've found a way out of suicide. PETER When you say way outGEORGE A sidestep PETER An option? GEORGE - a reason not to commit the act. PETER And the reason... Peter consults his notes. PETER (CONT’D) "The reason lies in the arms of women." GEORGE You're looking in your notes? I lie in the arms of women. Exactly. The safest place on earth. Depending on the woman, of course. PETER You know, they say that monks live longer. A stress is lifted from their lives. They ejaculate less. They are precious about their sperm. GEORGE Well, that's the wrong way around. Be generous. You'd think monks could be generous, at least. Sperm is full of goodness. It's a gift. A hormonal super-charged shot of life. I'm just being generous, Peter.

(CONTINUED)


5. CONTINUED: (3) PETER Why does it need to be so many different women? GEORGE Adventure. There is no other meaning to life, Peter. We are here, now, in the moment. The moment lasts forever. Don't look for the end. Get used to enjoying it. PETER These are not attitudes espoused by the church, I assume. What's changed, George? GEORGE The church and I are on rocky ground. I told you that. PETER So you did. Better rock than sand, I said. GEORGE Typical dissembling. PETER My work is not dissembling. You come to me for a reason. GEORGE Habit, I believe. My visits are a fixed habit I've never been able to shake. PETER Are you saying that family are, family is a habit? GEORGE Exactly that. Family is the toughest habit of all. PETER What was it about your childhood that led you to this conclusion? GEORGE The way you raised me. PETER And what way was that? GEORGE Like a plant that longed to creep out in every direction but which you tied like a grape vine, forced to grow in a set pattern. You were a farmer. (CONTINUED)


6. CONTINUED: (4) PETER It was never my intention for you to become a priest. GEORGE It was the only reasonable action. An unimpeachable escape route; just familiar enough, I fit right into the firm structure of obedience to a central God. PETER A God you've renounced now? GEORGE No. Rediscovered. I find his glory in other avenues. PETER The women again? GEORGE The women. The meaning of life. There's no other meaning to life than enjoyment. We are nothing else, Peter. There is nothing forbidden. Only our fears forbid us. PETER Forbidden fruit. So you felt caged in. You felt that my actions caged you in, so you rebelled all the harder against them. Peter takes more notes. GEORGE Obviously. Why do you ask? PETER It's all part of your treatment. GEORGE No. The way that you ask is more... specific. What are you getting out of this, Peter? PETER I'm taking more careful notes than usual. I don't want to make the same mistakes with Fabian. GEORGE Your new son. PETER He's nearly four now, George. You've still never seen him.

(CONTINUED)


7. CONTINUED: (5) GEORGE The old and new generations shouldn't mix, Peter. I have no reason to meet him. He's your new son. I'm the old model. PETER My work on you is fantastically helpful. I'm hopeful that it will help Fabian to become the man you never were. GEORGE I'm sure that the pleasure is all mine, Peter. The lighting shifts to the bar. SCENE 2 A bar. The audience is in the place of the barman and a bar is horizontal across the stage, parallel to the stage lip. Melissa stands up from her bar stool and walks to the end of the bar, looking into the audience then down behind the bar. She is already tipsy, and sways a little as she walks. Melissa is beautiful; blond and dressed provocatively. But she has the energy of the downhill skier; free falling in style. She sits down at a bar stool and looks around. A drink sits in front of the next stool, half finished. MELISSA Hey. Hey! You closed? Can't be closed. S'a drink right here. Melissa raps on the bar, looks around again, then reaches for the drink. She picks it up and sips at it. MELISSA (CONT’D) Dead man's drink. Guess no-one knows how to have fun these days. Where's everyone go? Jus' a Tuesday. Tuesday's the best day to get out the house. Nothing good happening in a house on a Tuesday. Hey. Barman! Bar! I need a drink. I need a drink, two drinks ago. I'm drinking ahead. I'm falling behind. George enters from off, wiping his hands on his coat.

(CONTINUED)


8. CONTINUED: GEORGE You're drinking ahead of what? Melissa hurriedly puts the drink back where she found it. She turns to face the bar. MELISSA Ahead of myself. Always think two drinks ahead. Keeps you hungry. GEORGE I live in the moment. Keeps me sane. MELISSA You the barman? GEORGE Not tonight. MELISSA What night are you on here? Help a girl with a drink? GEORGE No, I never work the bar here. I only cater private events. George sits at his stool and takes an approving look at Melissa. He pushes his glass towards her. GEORGE (CONT’D) Maybe you'd like more of my drink while you wait. MELISSA This your drink? GEORGE That's what the barman told me. Unless he's got a racket going, stealing from another bar. Paying hoodlums to run in and steal other people's drinks. Sounds like a good racket. MELISSA Funny. You're funny. But you're ahead of me. GEORGE I'm just floating alongside. Here for the show.

(CONTINUED)


9. CONTINUED: (2) MELISSA I'm not a show. Can't stand being looked at. Are you looking at me? GEORGE Not me. MELISSA Where's the barman? GEORGE Why don't you like being looked at? What's not to like? People can't help but look at you. They're interested. It's just a matter of perspective. They'll only see what you give them. MELISSA And what's that? GEORGE Give them pride. It trumps everything. You give them pride plus your looks? Unstoppable.  He's in the bathroom, as you ask. MELISSA Barman's in the bathroom? Taking a long soak in that tub, ain't he? GEORGE It's a dirty business. MELISSA Dirty how? He only has to pour some drinks. No bad business to be in. The business of making people happy. GEORGE I thought that was psychiatry. MELISSA That's the business of getting people to come back, get back on the couch. I know about that. I'm a psychiatrist. GEORGE What a coincidence. So's my father. MELISSA Bully for him. He drink to cope? GEORGE He's coming round to suicide.

(CONTINUED)


10. CONTINUED: (3) MELISSA That's a trick, alrigiht. Where's my drink. Where's my barman? GEORGE Keep it cool. He'll be right back. George leans over to her. GEORGE (CONT’D) George Underwood. MELISSA Whaddya do, George? GEORGE Part-time barman. MELISSA Melissa. part-time, huh? Can you get me one now? George looks reluctant for a second, then walks behind the bar. GEORGE Sure. Steve won't mind, not too much. Not for a future regular like you. MELISSA Oh, sure. I need a regular place. My usual regulars just kicked me out. George pours Melissa a vodka with ice. GEORGE Here you are. You fixing to be happy tonight? MELISSA Oh, sure. Every night's a happy night. Melissa raises her drink. MELISSA (CONT’D) To old, forgotten towns that have nowhere to go but down. Melissa raises her glass, then drinks. MELISSA (CONT’D) And what are you drinking to?

(CONTINUED)


11. CONTINUED: (4) GEORGE Who, me? MELISSA Yes you. The priest with the big nose. GEORGE You want to know what the priest with the big nose drinks to? MELISSA Why'd I just ask? GEORGE Making conversation. MELISSA People got to make conversation they want to ask a question, don't they? GEORGE Sure. MELISSA You're not the sharpest pencil in the box huh? GEORGE I do ok with what I have. I'm a minister, not a priest. MELISSA I need a sharp pencil. Can't have blunt ones. Too much smudging. I got clumsy hands. George walks back around the bar and sits down, picking up his drink and looking into it. GEORGE So you draw? MELISSA What? No. GEORGE But you do something, huh? MELISSA Not really. GEORGE Me, I drink.

(CONTINUED)


12. CONTINUED: (5) MELISSA Of course. Ministers got to keep their imaginations lubricated. GEORGE I drink for something to do. Man's got to look busy. Keep your attention off yourself. Even if it's just the foam on the top of a beer. MELISSA Looks like the most important glass of beer you ever had. GEORGE Well, it's the only glass of beer I got right now. MELISSA There you go. GEORGE I need to keep the attention off my big nose. MELISSA It works. GEORGE Most people are polite enough not to mention it. MELISSA No. The nose works. Holds your face together. I've known men didn't have the right nose. No balance on the face. GEORGE Is that something approaching a compliment? MELISSA It wasn't meant to be. GEORGE Sometimes those are the best kind. You're having a good time? MELISSA Supposed to mean? What? In life? Kind of a question is that? I have an ok time. It passes alright. Some days feel like months. Not the good months of the year. The tail months. When you kill an animal you don't eat the top or the tail. The middle's where the meat is. GEORGE Just making conversation.

(CONTINUED)


13. CONTINUED: (6) MELISSA Sure. Tonight I'm having plenty of time. It doesn't want to end. GEORGE I can help you there. MELISSA Help me escape tonight? GEORGE No. Continue it. MELISSA Continue the night. GEORGE You've been stuck in tonight forever. MELISSA Forever. Minus three years. You always take off three years. GEORGE No, that's your mistake. MELISSA I don't make mistakes. GEORGE My trick, see- wanna know it? - I add years.ÂŹ MELISSA You add years? GEORGE Years. People ask me how old I am, I add years. Makes my energy bigger. So you get back "no - 42? C'mon. You don't look a day over 38". Which I am. Which is good. BecauseMELISSA Because you like to trick people. GEORGE No, no no. No tricks. Good for making people, think you're MELISSA You gonna trick me? Whass your name?

(CONTINUED)


14. CONTINUED: (7) GEORGE I told you. George. George Pompidou. MELISSA Pompar-what? where's that? GEORGE It's French, I'm not. But I have the blood of a romantic. MELISSA You ever given blood? French. I thought it was Wood-something. No? Melissa, confused, looks back down at her drink. MELISSA (CONT’D) I never studied French. Didn't want to go to France. GEORGE Oh, but you have to. The nights are full of stars, the days full of lightly baked pastries and the hotel rooms full of.. full of whatever you want them to be. MELISSA Hotel rooms are always full of whatever you want. Plastic-wrapped glasses and folded over toilet roll. GEORGE What do you want? Melissa looks at him for a moment. MELISSA George Pompee-doo. I want to bathroom. George sits alone. He shifts in his seat then looks down at his hands as he massages them. He notices the ring on his finger, and pulls it off with some trouble. Melissa returns. She looks slightly fresher, but still unstable on her feet. MELISSA (CONT’D) You have any new conversation? GEORGE I know something about your name. MELISSA What's to know? (CONTINUED)


15. CONTINUED: (8) GEORGE There's lots in a name, you know? Whatever one you're given helps shape who you become. You either grow into it, like a baby's hand into a mitten, or it forces you where you don't want to be, like binding on the feet. MELISSA And you got what. GEORGE George, remember? George has been the binding of my feet. It's unfair, really. I'm no George. MELISSA What are you? GEORGE I'm a Brandon. Or a Buster. Or a Buddy. Something.... with more drive to it. I've fought with George all my life. I don't know who George is. It doesn't sum me up in one word. MELISSA What word does? That's not what names are for. Names just say "I'm me, not you". Make you different from other people. GEORGE We're all different. But names have power. Names can change your fate. MELISSA So change yours. GEORGE Not so easy as that. I don't want to live a lie. MELISSA Your choice. You can come in any bar you want, be anybody. You chose your own name, you're not happy with. Quit complaining. And buy me another drink. GEORGE For you, gladly. But you know what? MELISSA What. GEORGE Melissa means honey in Greek. I learned that once.

(CONTINUED)


16. CONTINUED: (9) MELISSA Aren't you the charmer. Do you invent your charms? Is that true? GEORGE You don't know? MELISSA I don't know. Tell me more about it. GEORGE A god, I think. God of honey. MELISSA Sounds a sweet thing to be. Say. Where's your ring got to? GEORGE My ring? MELISSA The ring was on your hand. I might be drunk but I'm not blind. Yet. GEORGE It, uh. It's gone away. MELISSA Gone away. But I can know it was there, once. Tells me you've done this before. GEORGE Sure. MELISSA It doesn't matter. GEORGE No. MELISSA What matters is another drink and the moment, now. And then we can think about what that ring means later on. GEORGE Might mean trouble. MELISSA No. I don't think so. You wouldn't give me any trouble, Buster. GEORGE Buster.

(CONTINUED)


17. CONTINUED: (10) MELISSA Buddy. Buddy's better. I like that. You'll be my buddy? GEORGE Till the lights tell us to leave. George moves in towards Melissa for a kiss. Lights down. SCENE 3 The lights raise on the nice dining table where Diane sits. She is sewing a button onto a man's shirt. George is energetic as he enters her scene, carrying a brown paper package. GEORGE Diane, honey, I'm home! DIANE Welcome back. How was your trip? GEORGE Fine. You know how these things are. DIANE No. That's why I asked. Diane moves to George to kiss him; on the cheek, and a brief embrace. Then she looks back down to the shirt. GEORGE Usual work crowd. Some important meetings. DIANE Important to God, I suppose. GEORGE God wasn't in attendance. DIANE Neither was I. But you missed me. And you missed being here, at home. You missed our little home.

(CONTINUED)


18. CONTINUED: GEORGE It's still here.  DIANE It isn't the same without you. GEORGE Diane, we only just moved in. DIANE Exactly; I've never been here alone before. It's so quiet here. Not a soul to be heard. George sits down heavily on the sofa. GEORGE It's peaceful. Diane crouches by him and grasps his hand. DIANE No. I can't be at peace when you're not here. There's too much to worry about. GEORGE You don't worry about me. I'm a big boy. I know my way around the world. DIANE I know that. I'm worrying about me and what I'm up to, while you're finding your way around. There's nothing little to do around here. GEORGE Well find something. Take up a hobby, why don't you. What happened to your writing? I thought I'd come home to the great adventures you had embarked on through the page. Diane turns away from him, stands and goes back to the kitchen. DIANE George, I'm no writer. GEORGE Not if you're not writing. DIANE Don't push me, George. I can't write. GEORGE Like there's something physically wrong?

(CONTINUED)


19. CONTINUED: (2) DIANE No, just. I don't want to write. GEORGE Well then. DIANE Well what? GEORGE Courage is facing the things you don't want to do. And doing them anyway. DIANE I thought we were talking about hobbies, George. Hobbies are things people do to make themselves happy. Hobbies aren't meant to be unconquerable mountains. GEORGE Tell that to the mountaineers. Look. I'm sorry. I'm just tired. It's not important, please forget I said anything. Here. I brought you a gift. DIANE What kind of gift? GEORGE Let's not get conditional, now. A fine gift. DIANE Any gift will do. GEORGE Flowers. DIANE How lovely. GEORGE Here you go. George removes two packets of flour from the brown paper bag. GEORGE (CONT’D) Two flours. DIANE They might need some water.

(CONTINUED)


20. CONTINUED: (3) GEORGE These flours are for you, honey. You can make pancakes. Your favourite! DIANE Or you could make me pancakes. GEORGE Oh, I don't go in for all that. You're better at it, you should do it. Besides, cooking's your department. We've each got our part to play now. DIANE Now that we're married, you mean? Now that we're married you've got a live-in cook. Forever. GEORGE There is no forever, Diane. Only today. DIANE No. No, it's not. And what's your part to play? GEORGE Honey. C'mere. What's the matter? DIANE Nothing, George. I'll get working on dinner. GEORGE Listen; tomorrow night.. or the night after, I'll bring home some food, bring you a meal. But tonight, dinner would be great. I'm going to change. George exits. Diane starts to chop vegetables on the table. DIANE You're going to change? How? You've already changed too much for me. I hate to say it, but it's true. Suddenly, marriage hits and it's all secrecy. Never where you're going. No notice. I can be trusted. I'm not your enemy. George? George? GEORGE (off) Yes?

(CONTINUED)


21. CONTINUED: (4) DIANE What do you think of.. of taking a trip, together? We haven't been away for so long. And there wasn't.. We didn't really honeymoon. At all. I think it would be perfect, just now. You and I, on our own together for a good period of time. No distractions. Nobody else. Just us. Give us some footing; a solid foundation for our early years. What do you think? George? George reenters. GEORGE What were you saying? DIANE It doesn't matter. It can wait. GEORGE Right. So, sexy lady. You missed me? DIANE Don't be inappropriate. George. Come here. You know I missed you. GEORGE I know you missed me. Missed my smell, missed my hands. Missed me in the bedroom. DIANE You've only been gone two days. GEORGE What's that supposed to mean? DIANE Nothing. GEORGE Two days is an eternity. The physical distance of days; an enormity. The absence of something. I haven't been here, so nothing has. Come through to the bedroom. DIANE George. I'm cooking. It'll burn. GEORGE So turn off the heat. What's more important, food or intimacy? DIANE Both. But only one actually keeps you alive.

(CONTINUED)


22. CONTINUED: (5) GEORGE Is that right? DIANE George. You said you were hungry. Now you're asking me to come to- come to the bedroom. GEORGE A simple enough request. DIANE Well. I can't do it. It's not that easy for me. GEORGE Not that easy for you. It's not a challenge. Not some hardship I'm asking you to endure. I just want my wife to come to bed with me. Because we're young and not set in our ways. And we can do this kind of thing. DIANE Because we're young. GEORGE Because we're free! And young! We can do whatever we want! DIANE But it's dinnertime. GEORGE Dinnertime! What is that? Whose time is that? Forget about dinner. I'll cook you the most wonderful meal afterwards.. DIANE You don't cook. GEORGE We'll go out. I'll take you wherever you wanna go. Or we'll go to a, a cafe; somewhere we can just go in our nightclothes. Walk right up in a gown and pyjamas. They'll serve us; they'll serve us pancakes to go with our pyjamas. C'mon, Diane. Let's go to bed. Come to bed, Diane. Lights down. SCENE 4 Lights up on the cafeteria, where Claudia sits reading a magazine. George enters. CLAUDIA The preacher cometh. (CONTINUED)


23. CONTINUED: One good man in a den of sharks. GEORGE Claudia. Where did you get the impression that I was a good man? CLAUDIA Have to be to do your job. What other weapons manufacturing firm would have a minister on retainer? GEORGE It's unusual. CLAUDIA They're attempting to get a free pass from God. We're all counting on you to save our souls. GEORGE You could try making your work more ethical. Claudia laughs. CLAUDIA How's the family, George? GEORGE Still there. CLAUDIA You don't mention them often. GEORGE What's to say? Life creeps along. Family's a comfort blanket. CLAUDIA I don't have one. It saves a lot of time. GEORGE Listen. We're friends, aren't we? CLAUDIA We're colleagues. I think friends takes more than daily contact. GEORGE I'd like to think friends. CLAUDIA If it makes you happy.

(CONTINUED)


24. CONTINUED: (2) GEORGE As friends, Claudia. As two adults of sound mind. Have you ever thought about an amnesty? CLAUDIA An amnesty? GEORGE A friend sex amnesty. CLAUDIA A friend sex amnesty. I've never thought about a friend sex amnesty, George. Do you need to be kidnapped first? GEORGE As a species, we've evolved far beyond sex as procreational activity. CLAUDIA I can't speak for everyone. But yes. I don't intend ever to use sex as a procreational activity. GEORGE Really? Never? Exactly. So as evolved creatures, why not choose to have sex whenever we might like to? CLAUDIA It complicates things. GEORGE Complications can be delicate delights. CLAUDIA Complications can result in routine surgery turning fatal. GEORGE We might have good sex together. Claudia. We probably would have great sex together. CLAUDIA It's possible. I can't speak for you. GEORGE Well? CLAUDIA This is the most rational pick-up line I have ever experienced. GEORGE Look at how I respect your rational brain.

(CONTINUED)


25. CONTINUED: (3) CLAUDIA Would you really risk everything you have? GEORGE I'm just looking for the most natural thing in the world. CLAUDIA Certainly. GEORGE A woman to share a bed with. What's so strange about that? CLAUDIA Just any woman, George? GEORGE No. You, Claudia. CLAUDIA I'm flattered. And your wife? Has she gone missing? GEORGE In a sense. I believe in many lives, and their simultaneous unfolding. CLAUDIA So I'm one of many. GEORGE Is that a problem? CLAUDIA Not if the frequency of your encounters implies some measure of competency. GEORGE Naturally. CLAUDIA How many of them were first time buyers? GEORGE I have repeat customers. CLAUDIA Got any references? GEORGE Plenty.

(CONTINUED)


26. CONTINUED: (4) CLAUDIA I do hope you know what you're doing. GEORGE How's that? CLAUDIA This isn't a game for little boys, George. This is grown-up action. People die doing less than you're suggesting. States have crumbled, walls collapsed and wars waged for these fragile human relationships you seem so comfortable tinkering with. GEORGE I don't think there'll be a war. CLAUDIA If there is we'll know who started it. It was George and his wandering little sausage. GEORGE Hey now. CLAUDIA It wanders, George. And it's bound to be little. GEORGE Maybe you should find out. CLAUDIA Maybe. How would it benefit me? GEORGE Benefits? Beyond a good time? What more to life is there? CLAUDIA The rationality again; but with a hint of... Epicurean excess? Or are you more Hugh Hefner? GEORGE Philosophy be damned. I'm mortal and getting more so every day. CLAUDIA Spoken as a true hedonist. GEORGE Hedonism is a high aspiration. A noble pursuit that we'd be fools to dismiss. Imagine the power inherent in the world that discovered hedonism all at once. There'd be love, free love. Free feelings and thoughts. No hiding. No agendas. If we could just do and say what we really felt. All of us. There'd be no damage because there'd be no false expectation.

(CONTINUED)


27. CONTINUED: (5) CLAUDIA And a fine stultification of progress. GEORGE Rather a life spent in satisfaction than frustration. What are we progressing to? What is this endless drive towards? Enjoy the process, the now. There isn't some moment at which you'll be happy. Your hours spent in the gym or eating right; there's no golden landscape waiting beyond the hill. These are coping mechanisms. To enable life. And if you don't fill that life full of wonders, full of daily excitements and moments of true clarity... then it hurts me. It hurts me to think that we are not all maximising our potential for enjoyment. CLAUDIA And this is now an appeal for sympathy? GEORGE No! A wake-up call; an appeal for sanity in the face of daily craziness which calls itself appropriate behaviour. CLAUDIA Comme il faut... GEORGE Comme? CLAUDIA Comme il faut.. as is necessary. Correct behaviour. GEORGE Exactly. CLAUDIA It might interest you to know that I have always been reprimanded for my improper conduct. GEORGE Is that right? Tell me of these scenes which elevate your character above all else. CLAUDIA By virtue of their transgression? When I was fifteen, my parents threw a large party in aid of a friend's recent divorce. A sign, I suppose, that they were glad to be rid of the husband who, it was felt, was weak. Weak because he held onto a career as a music composer even as the work was drying up. Vanishing, and he wouldn't move on. So these transurban elites gathered to celebrate the excising of this... infelicitous... associate, who prior to the communal decision had been a close member of their circle. Tables were laid with food - outdoors, this being summer. (MORE) (CONTINUED)


28. CONTINUED: (6)

CLAUDIA (CONT'D) We lived on the edge of a bay. Over the day these tables were laid with seafood delights; lobsters, fresh from the bay; oysters, shrimp and prawns, all alive and ready for their barbequed fate. And so when the caterers were on a break, I released them back to their ocean. Carried each bucket down to the pier and poured them forth. A release. GEORGE I think that's somewhere beyond improper. It ventures into criminality. CLAUDIA My parents' guests certainly thought so. They were hungry. GEORGE I wouldn't expect anything less of you, Claudia. You're a dangerous woman. CLAUDIA As is anyone aware of the terrible shortness of life. GEORGE Amen to that. Lights down. SCENE 5 Lights up on the confessional booth. Peter and George sit either side of the hatch. GEORGE And looking back on it now, do you think that it was proportionate? PETER It might not have been. GEORGE Was there something you could have done differently? PETER Nothing. There was nothing. No other routes. GEORGE Are you sure? PETER Fuck you I'm sure. What kind of a question is that?

(CONTINUED)


29. CONTINUED: GEORGE The question I ask everyone in your position. That's why you're here. Because you're not sure. PETER I've heard a lot about suicide, lately. GEORGE It's very popular. Now more than ever. PETER Why? GEORGE It's cheap. It's a grand statement. But no-one wants to do it alone. So we march into the abyss together. PETER What's on the other side of the abyss? GEORGE There is no other to an abyss. How are things going with Fabian? PETER Badly. He's exhibiting the same carnal interests as you did in his post-toddler years. Making a nuisance of himself at every party I take him to. Bothering all the women. The work isn't going well. GEORGE It must be your influence. Running through the genes. How many families do you have to create before you fail? You have sinned. PETER I'm here for absolution. GEORGE We don't do that anymore. It's fallen out of fashion. We can only listen.  PETER You can't forgive me now? GEORGE I can never forgive you. Dad. Lights shift.

(CONTINUED)


30. CONTINUED: (2) ACT 2 SCENE 1 Lights up on the bedroom scene. George stands, dressing himself. Melissa is in bed, staring at him. George needs to look unblemished for his return home. MELISSA This wasn't meant to happen again George. George. You're not gonna answer me? I'm right here. You fucked me. You're not gonna answer me? GEORGE I hear you. MELISSA I know you hear me. You're not deaf. Called me ok on the phone. GEORGE What's your point? MELISSA I told you. This don't happen again. This thing. It's unhealthy. GEORGE Whose health is it bad for, Melissa? All medical research points to sex being one of the healthiest things you could do. MELISSA I heard monks life longer. GEORGE Monks MELISSA Yeah, monks. GEORGE Where'd you hear thatMELISSA I read. Whatever you think George. I read. I got eyes. GEORGE Just like I have ears that I hear you with. What do the monks do?

(CONTINUED)


31. CONTINUED: (3) MELISSA S'what they don't do. Monks don't, y'know? GEORGE I know - what? They don't drive sports cars? MELISSA Don't pleasure themselves. On their own. GEORGE I couldn't tell you. I've never spent much time around monks. MELISSA You're another man around God. You don't gotta spend time with the monks to know that! GEORGE Large groups of men, locked up in monasteries together? Loose robes. I don't think they're as pure as you'd believe, honey. Prison rules. MELISSA Monks ain't prisoners. GEORGE They choose to be. MELISSA S'a proud thing. A thing to be proud of. GEORGE Not to me, honey. I've done my time as a monk. MELISSA You weren't no monk. GEORGE No but I've tried abstinence. Not that I wanted to. Forced weeks of going without sex. MELISSA You're talking about marriage. GEORGE What else? I'm talking about taking every spark, every piece of love and life that you hold dearest to you. And suppressing it with routine. You spark out of stimulation. And routine isn't stimulating. Learning is. Learning a new body. New tingles. New sparks down your spine. Monogamy is another religion I've fallen out of touch with. One God. One Woman. One Life. No more.

(CONTINUED)


32. CONTINUED: (4) MELISSA Well. I believe in it. GEORGE You do. MELISSA Of course. GEORGE Why so certain? You're with a married man, Melissa. The evidence against you is standing over you in the flesh. MELISSA Doesn't mean I don't think monogamy's a good idea. GEORGE Just not for me. MELISSA That's your business. GEORGE You can't say that. MELISSA Why. GEORGE How can you say that? You brought me into this. MELISSA Bullcrap. GEORGE Bullcrap? MELISSA Total crap. You jumped into bed with me. I didn't force you. I didn't even want you back then. GEORGE Charming. MELISSA S'true. You had your way with... talk. You were pushy. And... the drinks.

(CONTINUED)


33. CONTINUED: (5) GEORGE You spread your legs because I lubricated you just enough? You were drinking long before I found you, Melissa. MELISSA Couldn't hurt, George. Take away my power to say no. GEORGE That's toxic. Right there. What power to say no? You always have that power. You just choose not to use it. MELISSA Just don't call me again. GEORGE I won't. And fuck you to stand in judgment of me, Melissa. You tell me monogamy's the right path? What are these fantastic benefits monogamy offers? Melissa starts to dress herself now. MELISSA Stability. Safety. GEORGE Like safety scissors for children. Blunted just enough to be completely useless. Melissa. Listen to me. MELISSA There's nothing else to hear. GEORGE The force behind monogamy is Conservatism. People unhappy with their lot in life; or possessed by the need to control others. Who stand on soapboxes with filthy insides and preach limitations on the human experience. Who close doors in the name of prudence, who limit possibilities in the name of stability. Well I don't want stability. I don't want washing and housecare and gardening. MELISSA Those could be nice things to have. GEORGE The salve of lost sexual drive is garden ornamentation. You see? MELISSA No.

(CONTINUED)


34. CONTINUED: (6) GEORGE I'd die before I bought a garden gnome. MELISSA What's that? GEORGE I'd serve myself up to wild dogs before I went to pick out bedding plants. Really? You don't know? That's a victory. People buy stupid shit instead of having sex. Or learning about things. Whatever. MELISSA You have sex with me instead of buying things? GEORGE Not exactly. MELISSA Not exactly. I'm a catalogue. Mail order. Something cheap and easy. Well I told ya, it ain't happening again! GEORGE Then I'll find somebody else. MELISSA Suits me. You not listening to me or something? Find them. Find someone else wants to listen to your shit. You're not as clever as you think you are, George. You're full of crap. Melissa EXITS, leaving George momentarily confused he was meant to be rushing out. George takes a recorder out of his pocket and clicks it on, walking with it and talking into it. He walks through the other scenes, in which the occupants turn away from him as they try to approach him. GEORGE Funny, impulses. I was only rushing out because she was still here. I have nowhere to be in particular. I could go home. But there's nothing waiting for me there. Kids. I heard it said that you'll live on through your kids. I don't speak for all kids. But they age you. They're the ones that do it. Directly. If you wanna kiss goodbye to youth, fancy free life. Do it. It's not too late to reconnect. You just have to forget certain things. We're conservative about all the wrong things. One should practise conservatism of the self; selective selfishness. Be generous with your self. I wish I had. I lost a lot of years. So you're making them up now. The lights drop.

(CONTINUED)


35. CONTINUED: (7) SCENE 2 Claudia sits at the table, smoking a cigarette. George walks on, straight into the conversation. CLAUDIA I'm not coming with you. GEORGE Drop everything! Come on this trip. CLAUDIA No. GEORGE You're making me very unhappy. CLAUDIA Lower your expectations. GEORGE Come with me. Please. CLAUDIA No, George. I already have plans.  GEORGE Plans? What plans could you possibly have. CLAUDIA I need to go to this wedding. I can't help you. I can't miss this wedding.  GEORGE A wedding? CLAUDIA A wedding. GEORGE Whose wedding? CLAUDIA No one. GEORGE Must be someone.

(CONTINUED)


36. CONTINUED: (8) CLAUDIA It's nothing. Drop it. GEORGE It must be important. Don't do this to me. CLAUDIA Do what? GEORGE So. This wedding. CLAUDIA It's Susie. My best friend. GEORGE I don't know her. CLAUDIA Whose fault is that? You're not interested in my life. And I don't want you to infect it. George taps his foot impatiently. GEORGE Will they get married again? CLAUDIA What? GEORGE These people. Susie and whatever the husband's called. CLAUDIA No. What kind of a question is that? GEORGE Really. CLAUDIA Really, no. GEORGE Will they get married again. CLAUDIA To who, George?

(CONTINUED)


37. CONTINUED: (9) GEORGE Anyone. CLAUDIA You're an arsehole, George.¬† GEORGE But will they? Most marriages end in failure. You know that? You know that. Anecdotally you must. CLAUDIA Most? GEORGE At least half. I've seen it happen. I'm the poor sap marrying them off, and only months down the line they're agitating me for a divorce. Why embark on something this big, this huge, that you only have a one in two chance of succeeding at? CLAUDIA Hope. Faith. A grand old party with all your friends. These are the reasons. GEORGE You can come on a grand old party with me instead. CLAUDIA You don't need me, George. You don't need my approval. Because you won't ever get it. This here? This arrangement between us? It is conditional. One of those conditions is that I don't count on you for security. GEORGE There's no security in this life or the next. For this reason suicide is both rational and ludicrous. CLAUDIA You're ridiculous, George! Claudia laughs at him, heartily. George advances on her. CLAUDIA (CONT’D) What are you doing? GEORGE You're coming with me. CLAUDIA No, I'm not. (CONTINUED)


38. CONTINUED: (10) George grabs her arms.¬† CLAUDIA (CONT’D) George, let go of me! They struggle, and continue to do so as the lights shift once more; To the bedroom. SCENE 8 Diane enters the bedroom. She is dressed in dark clothes and carries a large black handbag. She looks around furtively then crosses to the dresser. She pulls a package from her bag which she unwraps, revealing a HANDGUN. She studies it intently for a minute, taking in the lines and fine etchings on the body. She then looks around the room before tucking it under the clothes in the top drawer of the dresser. As she pushes the drawer shut, a huge bang is heard and she screams. We hear stumbling from offstage, then George enters the room. George has a large bruise on his eye, from Claudia. GEORGE Whatsamatter? DIANE Jesus, George. You gave me a heart attack. GEORGE What? Nah. You seem fine. Be alright. Must have been just a small heart attack. DIANE You can't storm in here - drunk - and frighten me like this. GEORGE It's my house. What's there to be frightened of? You asleep? (CONTINUED)


39. CONTINUED: (11) DIANE No. GEORGE Asleep or something, huh? Always asleep. GEORGE knocks over a stack of books. DIANE Careful! GEORGE So fucking precious. They're things. Not people. Just things. Things, goddamn things. Things that you worry about, fret your life away with. Who made you a gatekeeper of this shit? If you're not curating this heap, you're asleep. Constantly. DIANE What are you talking about? GEORGE Rather death than sleep. Same, it's all joined. You want to sleep forever? Try dying once.. no, you want to try dying? Jus' go to sleep. Sleep and death are twins of the night, eternal blackness to ship you to the great beyond of nothing. Eternity's nothing. Nothing's eternal. Go on. Fall. DIANE Me? GEORGE Yeah you. Diane advances on George. DIANE I should sleep, the work I put in around here. What are you - how dare you? Where did you get that? Diane slaps at a bruise on George's eye. He pulls back with a cry. DIANE (CONT’D) Someone at the bar see you for who you were at last? GEORGE They're my friends. We don't fight. DIANE You don't. How could you?

(CONTINUED)


40. CONTINUED: (12) GEORGE Could I fight? We don't fight! DIANE How could you lie. Straight to my face. Not those little lies that you've been building up like a beaver's dam between us, one twig at a time. Piece by piece until you think you've held me back behind a wall of broken nights and lost time. GEORGE Who's losing time? DIANE Me. Every moment I'm trapped in these walls, these walls which cave in a little bit every day. You say I care about this shit? Diane smashes a lamp. DIANE (CONT’D) That's the role you've given me. With nothing else to care about except these cursed objects that surround me! You lie about where you've been. I called that bar, looking for you. I called that bar for the last time. GEORGE What did they say? DIANE What do you think. They said they hadn't seen you for about a week. But you could not bother going back because you haven't settled your bill. George stands, staring, lost for words. GEORGE You went behind my back. DIANE What else could I do? GEORGE You had no rightDIANE You! You, you train wreck of a human, you lying wreck of being. You put me through this, this torture. This existence, waiting, waiting, waiting! I've grown old waiting for you to grow up. GEORGE And out.

(CONTINUED)


41. CONTINUED: (13) DIANE What? GEORGE Don't forget how you've grown out. Diane stalks up to George, menacingly. DIANE What's that supposed to mean? GEORGE Outwards. Here. Comfort weight. Diane strikes him again, riling George. DIANE Comfort at what?! There's nothing comfortable about this life you've led me to, you bastard. Throw nature at me? This is aging, not that you'd know. Ever looked in a mirror? You're not young either. It doesn't help lying awake in bed, robbed of the sleep or death or whatever you want to call it. Awake late knowing that my husband - my husband who went through the charade of marriage and everything that involved - is, is... GEORGE Is what? Pause. DIANE You're going to make me say it? To say that. I can't. GEORGE Nothing, then. There's nothing to say. DIANE I can say something. You're weak. GEORGE Weak. DIANE And crippled, crippled in your breeding. GEORGE For what? For choosing life! For choosing love, many loves?

(CONTINUED)


42. CONTINUED: (14) DIANE Exactly. Commit or don't. A knock sounds, distantly. The other room. DIANE (CONT’D) For you? GEORGE Ignore it. The knock, again. DIANE How? GEORGE It's not important. DIANE Just the mailman? No, it can't be. I know the mailman's knock. I wait for it, every single day. The only sliver of company I get. A tiny piece of conversation, then it's gone. GEORGE You're allowed to leave the houseDIANE Or maybe it's more than that. We're at the end of his route, you know. He's done for the day. And it's only usually. GEORGE Don'tDIANE My imagination is still my own, George. So why don't you calm it down? Who's at the door. GEORGE No-one. I don't know. The knocks come again. Insistent, rapping that echoes through the house. Then a crack and the sound of a lock breaking and door opening. DIANE So who's in the house?

(CONTINUED)


43. CONTINUED: (15) GEORGE Stay here. DIANE No. Diane grabs him. DIANE (CONT’D) You stay here too. They can leave. Footsteps approach the door. Heeled. GEORGE Hide. Hide down there. DIANE I'll be right behind you. They have moved near the dresser; near the top drawer. The door opens, slowly. Claudia stands there, her hair a mess. The dress she was wearing in the scene before is torn and hanging low. There is a long, deep cut on her face, scarring the delicate skin. She has one hand jammed into her coat pocket, menacingly. CLAUDIA I should have just called the police. Obvious where you'd have slunk back to. George is between the two women now, and is obviously aware that this is a potentially catastrophic situation. CLAUDIA (CONT’D) Is this her? GEORGE Stay back. DIANE No. You're her. You're just as I imagined you'd be. But what happened to you? (CONTINUED)


44. CONTINUED: (16) CLAUDIA No point us fighting too, right? DIANE You knew. CLAUDIA You didn't? GEORGE Just leave. Get out of here. DIANE I knew. CLAUDIA George. Come now. Leave? This is beginning to get interesting. Diane slumps against the dresser. DIANE Of course you know her. CLAUDIA He knows me. What proof do you need, honey? He was with me two nights out of seven. And where's he been now? Attacked me then gone out stinking drunk. Have you been with the other woman, darling? DIANE Which other woman? GEORGE Shut up. Just get out. George makes to walk towards her. Claudia raises her free hand, then pulls the other from her pocket. It is holding a small revolver. GEORGE (CONT’D) What's that? Where - what did you get that for? CLAUDIA Protection, George. I bought this. Illegally. Because I'm not meant to let people do this. Claudia indicates her face.

(CONTINUED)


45. CONTINUED: (17) CLAUDIA (CONT’D) You fucking idiot. GEORGE NowGeorge steps forward again. Diane opens the drawer and stares down into it. CLAUDIA Don't. I'll kill you right here. GEORGE In front of a witness? I don't think so. You might be angry at me but you're not crazy enough to murder someone you don't even know. CLAUDIA No, I don't. Know her. Diane. Diane, look at me. Diane looks up at Claudia. CLAUDIA (CONT’D) I'm going to kill your husband for what he's done to me. Do whatever you need to. Close your eyes, leave the room, dive in front of the bullet. That would be the coward's choice. If you want to you can escape now. DIANE No. CLAUDIA Why not? Diane reaches into the drawer and pulls out her gun. George turns to see her draw it. GEORGE You tooDIANE Me too. Diane points the gun at Claudia. DIANE (CONT’D) Why should you get all the fun?

(CONTINUED)


46. CONTINUED: (18) GEORGE Diane, put the gun down. Everyone. Where.. you insane women. Guns, where'd you buy guns? Why? CLAUDIA Security. DIANE Security. Don't move, George. I don't want to kill you by mistake. CLAUDIA What fun? DIANE You take him for the best hours of his day. You give him shelter, safe haven from reality. You take him away from me. I'm left with a shell. A reluctant garble of flesh. CLAUDIA That's my choice in life. Diane waggles the gun at her. DIANE Choice? To steal from others? CLAUDIA No, no. Listen. To be free. To avoid commitments. I assume that people who want to be involved don't either. George made his own choices, his own mistakes. GEORGE Now look CLAUDIA You did, George. And what about the others? DIANE Others? GEORGE Wait a secondCLAUDIA The others. I wasn't the only one. DIANE How do you know? CLAUDIA There's never only one.

(CONTINUED)


47. CONTINUED: (19) DIANE But how do you know? CLAUDIA Ask him. Trust me. Either. I don't care. But I know because I should know. GEORGE There's nothing in this DIANE She said... she said two nights a week. How often are your business trips? GEORGE IDIANE Really? How often? CLAUDIA You don't go on business trips. You're a minister. DIANE And how do you know that? CLAUDIA He works for me. DIANE SoCLAUDIA So? DIANE So who is it? George has the full attention of both women now. They both point their guns to him. CLAUDIA Yes. Who is it? Let's share, George. DIANE I'm done sharing. Diane points the gun down and shoots George in the leg. George screams in agony and falls to the floor.

(CONTINUED)


48. CONTINUED: (20) Claudia looks on with interest. GEORGE Jesus Christ. My fucking leg. You, you DIANE Who is it, bastard? GEORGE No-one. DIANE What? Diane kicks at his leg. GEORGE Jesus, stop! DIANE Tell me now. Or I'll shoot you again. GEORGE This isn't you. DIANE Isn't me. How do you know. How could you know. You don't. This is what I've become, locked away here. Lost. GEORGE Lost your fucking brain. You'll burn for this. CLAUDIA This? This is self-defense. You see my face? You see her soul? She's a broken woman thanks to you. There are prisons beyond this world you're heading to, George. George spits over at Claudia. GEORGE You suddenly believe in God? You... you... whore. Sharing your bed with, with everyone CLAUDIA You sound jealous. Such dated language though, George. Disappointing, really. Because you only get to see other people's beds?

(CONTINUED)


49. CONTINUED: (21) GEORGE You're the one.. Diane, listen to me, she's the one, baby. She's the one who tricked me. You heard it, I work for her. She forced me into it. Made me, made me have this... carry on this affair... CLAUDIA Bullshit. Diane moves the gun; hesitant. DIANE I know. GEORGE You know? DIANE I know that you're full of bullshit. I've always known. But I thought it would pass. That one day, it would be stripped away and I'd be left with the fun George. My George. The one who stayed at home. With me. What's wrong with me? Tell me! Diane presses the gun to his head. GEORGE It's notDIANE Not what? CLAUDIA He can't answer. DIANE He will. GEORGE Not, not you, Diane. It's me. DIANE Don't give me that! GEORGE It's true. I just.. I have needs. DIANE What needs? GEORGE Just... I just need experience. (CONTINUED)


50. CONTINUED: (22) Claudia snorts. DIANE Life is experience. This is an experience. What exactly is it you think you're saying? GEORGE I don't want... normal. DIANE Then why marriage? Why? GEORGE I thought it would make you happy. Claudia shakes, then starts to laugh. Diane points the gun at her, then studies her laughter. Really studies it. Then Diane, too, begins to laugh. GEORGE (CONT’D) What? What are you laughing at? Why are you laughing? George starts to stand. The women keep laughing. Diane points the gun back at George. She shoots him in the upper arm. George screams. Claudia, still laughing, shoots him in the back. George falls forward. DIANE Why do you thinkCLAUDIA -he thinks that he canDIANE -just games to youGeorge struggles to pull himself up. GEORGE This isn't a game! You've killed me; I never wanted to hurt you. CLAUDIA But you did hurt me. You couldn't hurt me, but you found a way. The only way.

(CONTINUED)


51. CONTINUED: (23) DIANE You condemned me. Destroyed my life through cowardice; too cowardly just to say no. Just honestly. That's all I ask. GEORGE Please, call an ambulance. This is my life! Honesty can never be enough for you. CLAUDIA No. DIANE No. CLAUDIA It isn't. DIANE Not by a long margin. CLAUDIA You've led a full life, George. DIANE Disregarding the feelings of others. GEORGE I never asked for this. DIANE No. CLAUDIA You begged for it. Diane and Claudia walk slowly towards George, guns pointed down. The lights dim slowly; near darkness gunshots ring out, illuminating the stage in the final moments of George's life. With his wife and mistress, both shooting him. He, half sitting up, caught in the bullets. End.


PLAY Life Ticks Davo McConville