Play in the Drawer: Caridad Svich
Get it off your chest
Welcome to the final installment of Caridad Svich's Steal Back Light from the Virtual. For those who don't recall: "Six figures move like fractals in a city-labyrinth overrun by brutality, violence and displaced desires and the ghost of a Minotaur. Fractured love stories for a globalised age."
[The cramped square of space. NADJA is smoking. TIMOTHY walks in.]
NADJA You’ve come back?
TIMOTHY I left my sneaks.
NADJA I’m smoking. See?
TIMOTHY There will be nothing left of you.
NADJA Words don’t work anymore.
NADJA What use are words? They do not educate, they do not change…
TIMOTHY Where have you put my -?
NADJA I sat on the train and let him screw me with his inky fingers. I stood on the street and let a car run over a child. I walked into a room and told a boy to undress me so that three men could watch. What are you doing?
TIMOTHY I’ll wear these.
TIMOTHY Why not?
NADJA They won’t fit.
TIMOTHY They suit me.
NADJA You’ll get lost.
TIMOTHY I’m already lost.
NADJA I should have never saved you.
TIMOTHY You did the right thing.
NADJA So you could leave?
TIMOTHY I go to the movies, Nadja. Every day. I see slasher movies. First show is at eleven in the morning, last one at midnight. I watch them all. At the multi-plex, at the corner cinema where the vinyl seats stick to your ass, wherever I can…Slasher movies are my favorite. I’ve seen three hundred deaths this week. And next week, I’ll see more. I can’t stop.
NADJA You’re killing yourself.
TIMOTHY I’ve stopped smoking.
NADJA Have you?
TIMOTHY Nothing but amyl nitrate and ice cream now.
TIMOTHY Sometimes it’s the only way I can come.
NADJA You’re crazy.
TIMOTHY I feel alive, Nadja.
NADJA Lace your shoes. You will fall like that.
TIMOTHY They are laced.
NADJA Missed a hole.
NADJA You eyes don’t work right yet.
TIMOTHY I’ll be all right.
NADJA You will fall all over yourself.
TIMOTHY I’ll use some of this tape, fix the laces in place.
NADJA You shouldn’t be out walking.
TIMOTHY I saw a movie the other day. I looked at the screen and saw myself.
NADJA What’d you mean?
TIMOTHY It wasn’t advertised, this movie… It didn’t have a name. The reel must’ve slipped in somehow. There was the sound of a crash, wheels screeching, the screen went black for a second, then it’s me.
TIMOTHY Up on the screen. Like a fucking star. Walking out of a car on a bare road with blood all over my trousers. I think it’s Berlin because I hear a voice. Someone is speaking in German. The voice belongs to a woman. The woman is laughing. I turn around. The screen goes black again. There is the sound of a car door opening. Light fills the screen. Radiant colors. I am standing by the guard-rail on the road. I am looking down. There is the sound of speeding cars and the voice of the woman. I can’t see my eyes. It is as if they have been eaten by the sun. The blood on my trousers is dry. The woman’s voice calls to me “Timothy?” There are legs and hands below me. There are fingers missing. I look closer, keeping my foot on the rail. They are the legs of boys, age twelve, thirteen…dead boys… The woman calls to me again “Timothy?” I turn to her. I cannot see her face. The camera moves. My foot slams against the rail. I feel as if I am falling. The screen goes black, and when light returns, only the car can be seen. Neither the woman nor the man, which is me, can be found. Are you listening to me?
NADJA You saw a movie.
TIMOTHY The man on the screen was me. It was your voice, Nadja.
NADJA I don’t speak German.
TIMOTHY Who did we crash into?
NADJA We didn’t crash into anything.
TIMOTHY Why do you lie to me?
NADJA I mis-use affection. But I don’t lie.
TIMOTHY From the day you met me. Aiming that camera at me, calling to me, sinking your tongue into my mouth, messing up my hair.
NADJA I didn’t mean anything. I just wanted to-
TIMOTHY Locking me up in this room, bringing me cold food to eat.
NADJA You’ve got it all wrong.
TIMOTHY Stealing all my things: my sneakers, my back-pack. What did you think you were going to do with me?
NADJA I wanted to protect you. I wanted to… hold you.
TIMOTHY Fucking… make me sick. Give me your mouth.
TIMOTHY No more lies.
[TIMOTHY tapes NADJA’s mouth shut. Dark.]
[The cramped square of space, which feels narrower now. Half-light. MESMER cradles NADJA. Her wrists and ankles have also been bound with tape. She remains gagged, from previous.]
MESMER Are you crying? Is that what you do when your lover leaves? Dry your eyes. Stop now. The tape is wet. You’ll ruin everything. Come. Let’s set you down over here. The light will not come into your eyes.
[He sets her down in another part of the room.]
It’s safer here. Away from the window. You don’t know what could come through that window. Does your body hurt, dear? Are your joints tired of being locked? You shouldn’t cry. It only makes things worse. You know that better than anyone. Don’t you, Nadja? I’ve seen you. You stood by the road as the boys went down. You recorded everything. What makes anyone keep their eyes fixed on atrocity? Do you take pleasure in it? I take pleasure everyday. In bits. You see this boy?
[Light reveals LAME in a corner. There are cigarette burns all over his naked body.]
He came to me. One day. Unknowing. A transaction. That’s all he was. A little hell-child off the street. He let me touch him. He let me do my will. Look at him. He can’t even look at me without drowning his eyes… I can’t touch him anymore. There is no part of him that is unknown to me. I found every bit of pleasure I could. Stop shaking, Lame. Stop looking at me. I give him to you, Nadja. I offer him to you. Do with him what you will. He is my sacrifice.
I’ll take the camera now, and the slice of film where the minotaur’s face can be seen. You’ve been good to keep it here. To keep it for me. It will help me write my story, the story of seven boys killed… Thank you for everything.
[MESMER picks up camera and exits. LAME slowly makes his way toward NADJA. Lights fade.]
[The square space. Time has passed. Light falls from the window and onto NADJA and LAME’s bodies. NADJA is unbound. LAME rests, near her. He remains naked. Silence.]
NADJA Do you like it?
LAME It’s a good word.
NADJA Try another.
LAME Don’t know…
NADJA Try another.
LAME Can’t think…
LAME I don’t like it.
NADJA Try another.
NADJA There’s no room for it.
LAME Leave it on your tongue.
LAME It’s a word my Mom used. I remember.
NADJA I can’t remember my mother.
LAME She made custard pies, and creamy strawberries.
NADJA I can’t remember anything before Timothy.
LAME Who’s that?
NADJA Someone I knew.
LAME I’m hungry.
LAME Kiss me.
LAME Lips hurt?
NADJA Everything does.
LAME Same as me.
NADJA I’m not…
LAME The same.
NADJA You fall in love. Not me.
LAME What about Timothy?
NADJA I try not to think.
LAME Loved him, didn’t you?
NADJA Out in the open.
LAME He left you here, in this squat.
NADJA So did Mesmer.
LAME I wanted him to.
NADJA You could barely breathe.
LAME I asked him to destroy me.
NADJA Sick with love.
LAME I didn’t want to feel anything anymore.
NADJA Through with feeling?
NADJA Everyone lies.
LAME I wonder where Ange… Give me a word.
[NADJA watches LAME sleep. She sings to him “In the Stolen Part.”.]
NADJA Would you give a toss If all was lost? Would you still look out for me? In the stolen part Of my…
[LAME stirs. He is crying. She stops singing.]
[She continues singing.]
You could be…
[High-rise. Wide view of the city. MESMER is writing. ARIADNE stands, looking out onto the expanse of city below.]
ARIADNE I’ll miss Lame.
MESMER You were jealous of him.
ARIADNE At first. Yes. I wanted to kill you. But after the hospital… There was nothing to say, was there? He was just a boy. I could see that. He only wanted a bit of pain, a bit of meaning in his life.
MESMER Like the boys on the news.
ARIADNE They found him, you know.
ARIADNE The killer, the butcher…The minotaur. A man out of uniform shot him through the eye, punctured his spine. The beast fell.
MESMER No more dreams…
ARIADNE You’ve turned in your story?
MESMER Everything’s sorted now.
ARIADNE …I would’ve liked to have seen him.
MESMER The minotaur?
ARIADNE His face.
MESMER What for?
ARIADNE So I could put him in my dreams. Along with the boys. I like everything to have its place. You’ve taught me that.
MESMER Have I?
ARIADNE And Lame.
MESMER Still jealous.
ARIADNE I’d like someone to hide me in their wing.
MESMER Sky’s turning.
ARIADNE Looks like Barcelona.
MESMER We should go. How long has it been…?
MESMER Did we…?
ARIADNE Don’t you remember?
MESMER The Twin Hotels.
ARIADNE On the sand.
MESMER We baked.
ARIADNE Fried our skin.
MESMER We offered ourselves up.
ARIADNE To the gods?
MESMER To everything.
[Lights fade as the city gleams.]
[A side street. TIMOTHY and ANGE are bruised.]
TIMOTHY He sucked my fingers. Licked your crack.
ANGE He paid up, didn’t he?
TIMOTHY He hit me. If he hadn’t cuffed me, I would’ve beat him.
TIMOTHY I got a mean punch.
ANGE Show me.
ANGE Why not?
TIMOTHY I don’t feel like it. I’m getting old.
ANGE You’re all right.
TIMOTHY Too old for this. What am I doing with you, Ange?
ANGE What’d you mean?
TIMOTHY What am I doing with you?
ANGE We have a laugh.
TIMOTHY I want something more.
ANGE Go back to Nadja.
TIMOTHY You don’t know her.
ANGE Is she a good egg?
TIMOTHY She found me on the street, gave me sweets.
TIMOTHY We went dancing. Her face and arms glowed under the light. She gave me words. “Bubble.” A round word. It filled me up. She said “Slow doon.” She used strange words, a different language. She brought me treats. And she didn’t ask for anything. We’d fuck all night, and she’d just hold onto me. We were on the road, my foot was on the guardrail, there was a man coming up to me. I think he wanted to kill me. His face was familiar. It was as if he knew every part of me. I could feel the imprint of his fingers on my skin. But I couldn’t place where I had met him
ANGE Another life?
TIMOTHY Nadja pulled at me, she tugged at my Teletubbie. “Come on, love.” I looked at her: “Do you love me?” She tucked me under her arm. And we flew over a million cities – Berlin, Glasgow, New York… I could see everything – intersections and tollbooths and boys pissing on the street, As we moved through a space-time fabric that knew no ending. There was blood on my trousers, and glass in my eyes. “Hold on,” Nadja said. “Hang on, love.” And we kept flying over nameless cities, through envelopes of air, As the man’s face turned away from me. I remember offering myself up to him once, like the twit asked me to do tonight. I remember wanting to give myself up to someone, wanting it more than anything. Nadja set me down in a room. She had words on her wrists. She fed me. I wanted to hold her all the time. Even if I didn’t know where I was. What does it matter where one is anyway If you have to spend all your time watching people die? Nadja saw me crying in the middle of a street littered with girls looking at themselves in fancy mirrors and she said “Touch me. Right here. I’m not scared.”
ANGE …I’ll buy you a frock.
ANGE From the boutique. Alexander McQueen.
TIMOTHY I don’t want one.
ANGE How about a helmet?
TIMOTHY Why would I want that?
ANGE They’re expensive.
ANGE Lame wouldn’t mind one. He loves helmets. Makes him feel like a space king.
TIMOTHY Get one for him, then.
ANGE We were a good team. Don’t know where he’s gone to.
TIMOTHY They found the man.
TIMOTHY The one who killed the boys.
ANGE You knew him?
TIMOTHY Why do you say that?
ANGE Sounded like you did, the way you said it.
TIMOTHY He was a stranger. Let out from some institution. They say he had a knot under his tongue.
ANGE You believe that?
TIMOTHY It was in the paper.
TIMOTHY It will be safe now.
ANGE You’re dreaming.
TIMOTHY Safe from him.
ANGE …What am I going to do with all this money?
TIMOTHY Get an ice cream.
[Lights fade as TIMOTHY walks away.]
[The cramped square of space. Graffiti on the walls has faded. LAME and NADJA face out. He is wearing Nadja’s blouse. She is wearing one of Timothy’s shirts, and a skirt.]
NADJA I filmed children. I watched them through the lens. Different schools, different cities.
LAME Why’d you stop?
NADJA Went in one day, all the children in the school had been shot.
LAME You film it?
NADJA I started to turn my camera on everything after that. I struck a bargain with God. I looked Him in the eye and said “I will conquer death by looking at it over and over again.” I went from one city to the other until I found this room, where I thought I would not have to conquer anything.
NADJA I don’t know now what it is I see. If I stop the images in my brain, what’s left me?
LAME There’s a game I used to play.
NADJA No games. Please.
LAME Hand over eyes. Go on. Don’t be afraid.
NADJA I can’t…
LAME I’ll do it with you. [He places his hand over his eyes] One, two…
NADJA Where’d you learn this game?
LAME When I was a boy and all the pretty-ugly lads would take turns screwing me. Go on. Count.
LAME Keep your hands over your eyes. Take your time.
[NADJA continues counting silently, then….]
NADJA I think I could walk out of this room with my bones aching, and I wouldn’t care what would find me.
LAME I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of anything.
NADJA It’s like when I was ten years old.
LAME On the beach. No sand. Just pebbles. Wind beats. And the change machine at the arcade spits out Euros by the hundreds, and everyone is playing. Bowie blasting through the speakers with his mad-idle face looking at me, bare and gleaming. And I want him in my mouth, between my legs. I want the Euros in my hand to buy me everything.
NADJA Ten years old and I can’t even see the beach. There is only land here. Tall hills. And leaves I collect with my bare hands. I try to pretend I am somewhere else. Sometimes I forget the words to things. The leaves are full of dirt. I carry them with me.
LAME I got mirrors on my nipples, and black galaxy varnish on my toes. Everything glitters: my eyes, hair, tits… It’s time to nick a little, steal a little… light.
NADJA [counting] Fifteen…
LAME I see a poster for Barcelona on the walkway. I can’t feel the holes that have been burned into me. I am unmarked, un-broken.
NADJA I see a poster for Barcelona on the walkway, outside the door, on the other side of the street. This is somewhere I have never been.
LAME A mobile rings in the distance.
NADJA Don’t answer anything. The world doesn’t need any more stories of slain children
LAME and slain beasts. I walk slowly.
NADJA Out of the labyrinth…
[The room falls away, no walls, no windows. Warm Catalan sun beats down. MESMER appears.]
MESMER I dreamed I was in a city that was a dream.
NADJA What did you see?
MESMER I saw you looking at me when I was dead to feeling. You came to me holding a camera to my heart, and said
NADJA Enter me in your dream.
MESMER And the atlas turned, and the skies shivered, and we remembered pieces of ourselves
NADJA Bits we had left behind
MESMER Lives we had abandoned because we wanted to destroy everything.
NADJA Out of this,
MESMER out of this,
NADJA out of this world…
MESMER Everything is within our compass.
NADJA [Simultaneous]… Let’s make…
MESMER [Simultaneous]… Let’s make…
MESMER A senseless act
NADJA of beauty…
[MESMER and NADJA begin to devour LAME. Light bathes them, then fades.]
END OF PLAY
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