Theater

Play in the Drawer: Caridad Svich

by


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.”

Scene twenty-one

[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.

TIMOTHY
Eh?

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.

NADJA
Shoes?

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.

NADJA
Together?

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.

TIMOTHY
Where?

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.

NADJA
You?

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.

NADJA
Timothy?

TIMOTHY
No more lies.

[TIMOTHY tapes NADJA’s mouth shut. Dark.]

Scene twenty-two

[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.]

Scene twenty-three

[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
Bubble.

LAME
Bubble.

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…

[Pause.]

NADJA
Plenty.

LAME
Plenty?

NADJA
Yes.

LAME
I don’t like it.

NADJA
Try another.

LAME
Sorrow.

NADJA
Sorrow?

LAME
Yes.

NADJA
There’s no room for it.

LAME
Leave it on your tongue.

NADJA
Sorrow.

[Pause.]

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.

NADJA
Sorrow…

[Pause.]

LAME
Kiss me.

NADJA
Can’t.

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?

LAME
Yes.

NADJA
Everyone lies.

[Pause.]

LAME
I wonder where Ange… Give me a word.

NADJA
Empty.

LAME
Empty.

[Lights fade.]

Scene twenty-four

[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.]

Shh.

[She continues singing.]

You could be…

[Dark.]

Scene twenty-five

[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.

MESMER
Who?

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.

[Pause.]

MESMER
Sky’s turning.

ARIADNE
Looks like Barcelona.

MESMER
We should go. How long has it been…?

ARIADNE
Honeymoon.

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.]

Scene twenty-six

[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.

ANGE
Yeah?

TIMOTHY
I got a mean punch.

ANGE
Show me.

TIMOTHY
No.

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.

ANGE
Chocolate?

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.

TIMOTHY
What?

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.

TIMOTHY
No.

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.

[Pause.]

TIMOTHY
They found the man.

ANGE
Eh?

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.

ANGE
Rubbish.

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.]

Scene twenty-seven

[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.

LAME
Quiet.

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.

NADJA
One…two…

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
Barcelona.

NADJA
Barcelona.

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.

[Pause.]

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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