Heaven and Hell

HEAVEN And HELL  

by Tim Gooding

Midway this way of life we’re bound upon
I woke to find myself in a dark wood
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone
 
Ay me! How hard to speak of it - that rude
And rough and stubborn forest! The mere breath
Of memory stirs the old fear in the blood

 

It is so bitter, it goes nigh unto death
Yet there I gained such good, that to convey
The tale, I’ll write what else I found therewith..

Dante Alighieri: “L’Inferno”, Canto I, 1-9.

PART 1: HEAVEN

Characters

The Lovers:

CHRISTINE             (1978-2005)
CHRISTOPHER      (1976-2005)

The Children:

PETER             (1997-2005)
JULIET             (1999-2005)

ALASTAIR       (1940-1969)       A Man Of God
COLETTE       (1890-1929)       An Artist
JERRY            (1980-2003)       A Scientist
GRACE           (1917-1961)       A Historian

 

Prologue

(i)
Darkness. 
A church bell tolls. 
As a comet travels slowly across the night sky.
Then the sound of rain.
CHRISTOPHER and CHRISTINE occupy the front bench seat of a middle-aged car. He drives, she sleeps on his shoulder.
He is dark, she is fair. They are dressed in white. Contemporary, credible, wedding white.
The windscreen wipers malfunction. CHRISTOPHER peers close through the windscreen, tense, and reaches out the window to handwipe from time to time.
Something else troubles him, moreso than the wipers. He stares grimly at the rain and road ahead.
Then jerks the steering wheel. Deliberately. The car swerves towards the highway verge. Wet tyres slide.
CHRISTOPHER corrects. But it would be so easy not to.
He looks to CHRISTINE, asleep.
A beat or two.
Before CHRISTOPHER swerves the car again. And waits longer before correcting. As CHRISTINE sleeps.
CHRISTOPHER drives on. The thought seems to nag.
 
He activates music:  “Me and the Devil Blues” by the “King Of The Delta Blues”, Robert Johnson.
 
 
ROBERT JOHNSON:     Early this morning, when you knocked upon my door, I said, Hello Satan..
     
CHRISTOPHER:            Hello Satan.   
     
ROBERT JOHNSON:     I believe it’s time to go..

CHRISTOPHER looks sidelong at sleeping CHRISTINE. He leans in, to kiss her.

ROBERT JOHNSON:     Me and the devil, was walking side by side, Me and the devil..

As CHRISTOPHER leans in, the steering wheel turns, dangerously, again.

Blackout.

(ii)
A church bell tolls.
Followed by a slow-spreading pink-blue light. Early morning. 
PETER, a young boy, and JULIET, a young girl, enter. In swimsuits, carrying beach towels. Heading to the sea. 
JULIET finds a shell in the sand. She shows the shell to PETER. Who takes and refuses to return it.
JULIET jumps up, tries to retrieve the shell, but PETER holds it out of her reach.
JULIET suddenly points at the sky and screams in terror. 
PETER looks up, stares, sees..what?
He puts a comforting arm round his sister, whispers in her ear, and returns the shell. JULIET smiles.
The children run off excitedly into the sea.

(iii)
Church bells peal, loudly, and long. Wedding bells. 

CHRISTOPHER and CHRISTINE enter. Holding hands. In white. 

           CHRISTINE
From the moment of my birth, my life has been
A time of near uninterrupted bliss
Where grey of misery is rarely seen

          CHRISTOPHER
And should such loom, is easily dismissed 
By faith that better surely lies ahead 
We have no cause to doubt that we are blessed

          CHRISTINE
Not accident, nor luck, but lack of dread
Nourished in belief that good will out
Accentuates our positive instead

          CHRISTOPHER
Not doubt, as turned to salt the wife of Lot
Nor fear, casts shadows ‘cross our hearts
If faith should ever falter, hope will not

          CHRISTINE
One single indecision, at the start
We must confess. A mutual delay
Committing until death doth make us part

          CHRISTOPHER
But we have read the signs and pledge today
To hesitate no more. And we will marry
For miracles are seen in Byron Bay

          CHRISTINE
An unpredicted comet looks to tarry
Children view a horseman in a cloud
Bloody tears are wept by statuary

          CHRISTOPHER
A cripple walks, a dead man sheds his shroud
To talk in tongues as Byron’s hopeful eye 
Pursues a new Messiah through the crowd

          CHRISTINE
What are we to make of this? To cry?
To smile? To pray? To flee? To sneer? To shop?
To wait indoors, convinced the end is nigh?

          CHRISTOPHER
Our glad interpretation was to drop
All hesitation, and to set the wedding date
What better if this wondrous world should stop?

          CHRISTINE
We hastened north to witness, and relate
And make our vows at dawn on Watego’s
We drove all through the night, we could not wait

          CHRISTOPHER
Past sleeping towns, where limpid silence flows
By rivers silver windings of the moon
And fruit’d hills in orange freeway glows

          CHRISTINE
Such beauty. Deep. To make two lovers swoon. 
And yearn, so lost in dark magnificence
To steal a kiss, or two, or three, and soon

The couple embrace and kiss passionately. A circular beam of light - a white tunnel - captures them.

CHRISTOPHER
A show’r of stars lit catspaws on the Clarence
In blinding light, we saw one star explode
But knew it was a positive experience

CHRISTINE
Even as the car ran off the road.
We found that we were wand’ring in a garden
Like that which God on Adam once bestowed

CHRISTOPHER
Four clear streams ran through this second Eden
And fed a fountain, centred in a pond
Amid such perfumed beauty as would pardon

CHRISTINE
Intoxicated slowness to respond
When behind an iron gate, a figure stood
And beckoned us to go with it beyond

CHRISTOPHER
Whoever it was, wherever we were, was good.
They turn and walk down the tunnel of light, to fade and disappear in white nothingness. 
The white light is extinguished.

Scene 1

A mediaeval choral piece for four voices, devotional, perhaps a motet, or one of Monteverdi’s “Vespers”, begins in darkness. Beautiful, pure.
The darkness disperses, revealing the interior of a Gothic cathedral.
The cathedral is incomplete, a cracked stone shell, the sky visible through jagged holes. A great bell hangs in a broken tower. 
Erratic scaffolding clings to a wall, reaching to the vaulted roof.
Stained glass windows, intact, flood the interior with the rich colour of their imagery. Human figures in the windows seem symbolically to represent Art, Science, History, and Religion. At least one window is missing, or badly broken.
A circular Rose Window - or is it a Wheel? - occupies a high central position.
The cathedral is undergoing restoration. Or is it demolition?
A bicycle, with basket, leans against a wall.
The choral group comprises COLETTE, JERRY, GRACE, and ALASTAIR, the choirmaster, who conducts as he sings. 
COLETTE wears a 1920s oriental dressing gown; JERRY an Armani suit; GRACE multi-pocketed desert khaki; ALASTAIR a Monsignor’s day wear. Or along those lines.
ALASTAIR sees something out the window. He continues singing as he watches. The others also watch as they take the song to its conclusion. ALASTAIR nods approval of the performance.
ALASTAIR
Approaching perfection. Not there, but en route. Better lies ahead, always. We have newcomers in the garden.
The four observe the arrivals.
The stillness is broken by the sound of chirping swallows  within the cathedral. 
Then the airy beat of a flock of pigeons circumnavigating the stone shell overhead.
GRACE
They are terribly young. 
JERRY
Car.
ALASTAIR
Young and in love. Everything is ahead of them. They tarry by each bloom, butterfly, and bird.
COLETTE
Were you ever in love, Alastair? In the earthly sense?
ALASTAIR smiles coyly, perhaps not unlike his namesake, Mr Sim. Monsignor ALASTAIR is a Man of God.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Did she have a name?
ALASTAIR
Catherine.
COLETTE
And?
ALASTAIR
She was a novice. We crossed paths outside chapel.
COLETTE
Often?
ALASTAIR
Her face glowed like the young Ingrid Bergman. The desire of ages was in her eyes. The purest green. She was a rose devoid of thorns.
GRACE
Did she know? That you were in love with her?
ALASTAIR
Oh no. Certainly not.
COLETTE
It’s better that way.
ALASTAIR
We never spoke. She was married to Christ, was she not? Or engaged, should I say. Shall we move on? 
ALASTAIR initiates another choral piece. CHRISTINE and CHRISTOPHER appear, and wait. CHRISTINE carries new-picked flowers. First GRACE, then the others, become distracted by a small discolouration, like a stain, on high stonework. The singing loses focus. ALASTAIR signals a halt.
GRACE
Is that damp?
JERRY
Nature seeks out weakness. 
CHRISTINE
Excuse us. We saw a light.
ALASTAIR
Welcome, welcome.
CHRISTOPHER
This isn’t Byron Bay, is it?
JERRY
It’s much better than Byron.
GRACE
Much, much better.
COLETTE
It couldn’t be better, here. 
ALASTAIR
We gild the lily. Good will out, the best is yet to come, but beware belief born of vanity.
CHRISTINE
I picked some flowers. I hope that’s all right.
ALASTAIR
They grow back as we speak. Perhaps moreso as we sing.
CHRISTINE
You sing beautifully.
ALASTAIR
Music is beauty. Music teems with other worlds. Other lives. We are merely instruments. Range?
ALASTAIR uses a pitch pipe or his “perfect pitch” to test CHRISTINE’S range. After initial surprise she sings well, confidently follows, harmonises with, vocal lines given by ALASTAIR. CHRISTOPHER watches with fixed smile.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Splendid. We have been hoping for a mezzo. Is it a hope too far we have also been sent our baritone?
CHRISTOPHER
You have been sent your goldfish. I prefer to carp. Or groper. I can only sing when no-one’s listening. I sing perfectly in my mind. 
ALASTAIR
Singing comes not from the mind but from in here.
He pats CHRISTOPHER in the region of the heart. Gives CHRISTOPHER a note. CHRISTOPHER stays silent.
CHRISTOPHER
I may have the heart of a goldfish as well as the voice.
ALASTAIR
If will exists, capacity follows. 
CHRISTOPHER
Can I manage the band instead?
ALASTAIR repeats the note. CHRISTOPHER’S self-consciousness is palpable. He opens his mouth. But declines the attempt.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I can’t sing.
ALASTAIR
We believe you can. All you need do is believe it too.
CHRISTOPHER
I know I can’t.
ALASTAIR repeats the note. CHRISTOPHER again declines, his discomfort excruciating.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I can’t sing in my mind either. I speak. At length. In verse. 
ALASTAIR
Quiet, now. Close your eyes. Close.
CHRISTOPHER
My train is dark and bible black as night
The fair haired woman with the window seat
Lifts her blind to let me see the light

His verse has the scansion/rhyme scheme of the Prologue. 

CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
Talkin’ white Anglo Saxon black humour’d blues. 
ALASTAIR
Quiet. Please. Close your eyes.
CHRISTOPHER
Blues verse. An obscure but underrated form.
CHRISTINE
Shut up, Chris?
ALASTAIR
Relax. Breathe. Good. Now as you breathe, feel your chest open up..inside..
He pats CHRISTOPHER’S chest. Gives him the note.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Now let your heart go..and sing.
CHRISTOPHER responds. Weakly. Without conviction. Painfully. 
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Your gifts may lie elsewhere. Be not downhearted.
CHRISTOPHER
I be not. Hope springs eternal. I sit in a dark train, but I look out the window.
ALASTAIR
“If you cannot sing like the nightingale and the lark, then sing like the crows and the frogs, which sing as God meant them”. The good Thomas à Kempis made no mention of goldfish. 
The beep of an alarm watch. Whose? JERRY touches a button on his suit then wanders erratically, talking over-loudly to himself. It will later be apparent he dictates into a mini digital communications system embroidered into his suit. JERRY is a Man of Science. A very chipper, ever cheery one.
JERRY
(dictating)
I experienced turbulence in the passing over. From ambulance to pastoral vision, it was a bumpy ride. But, in the end, worth every discomfort.
ALASTAIR
We’ll take a break, shall we?
JERRY
(dictating)
Exactly where I have landed, I can’t be sure. Opinion is divided. We are agreed it is extremely pleasant. We occupy ourselves while we wait. Life is too short. 
He exits. To immediately return.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I’m going outside for a think!
He exits. 
Quiet descends, broken by the beat of circling pigeons. CHRISTOPHER and CHRISTINE take in their surroundings.
GRACE
We restore such as we can. We lack the Gothic labour supply. 
CHRISTOPHER
I did my back in the car. Whiplash. 
GRACE
Gothic architecture was socialism in action. 
ALASTAIR
Grace. 
GRACE
A dirty word these days. For a time, conflict between capital and labour was non-existent. 
ALASTAIR
Perhaps we might allow our friends to settle in before we evangelise? 
JERRY enters.
JERRY
Life is too short.
He climbs into the belltower, disturbing the pigeons, who take to the air in an audible flurry. 
GRACE stares at the damp patch on the stonework. It seems to have spread, like a dark stain through porous material.
GRACE
It is damp. 
ALASTAIR
The north wall. Side of cold and darkness. Some say of evil. The profane were buried in the north of the churchyard.
GRACE
The profane worked, reproduced, struggled and died young like everyone else, and probably didn’t care where they rested. 
She strides to a small “retreat” within the cathedral, a desk by the entrance, to make a note. Monk and manuscript. Several old objects lie on her desk: a sandal, a spoon, coins, a metal plate with wagon wheel pattern. GRACE is an Archaeologist. With a touch, possibly, of Joyce Grenfell.
Each cathedral occupant has a retreat adjacent to their corresponding stained glass window. It will become evident the retreats lie equi-spaced around the circumference of a large circle which has the Rose Window/Wheel at its centre.
ALASTAIR
The Lord’s geometry is reflected in the cathedral plan.
GRACE
Humanity’s struggle is preserved within the stone. And beneath it.
ALASTAIR
The south: Enlightenment,  goodness. The west: history,   judgement. The east: the Head of the Church.
GRACE
(re objects on desk)
A worker’s sandal? The spoon with which he supped? His plate? Secular relics.
ALASTAIR
Of the spiritual imperative.
GRACE
A mediaeval co-operative of masons, carpenters, plasterers, plumbers, smiths, glaziers, painters, all working for the common purpose. 
ALASTAIR
The higher purpose, mm? What do the young people think?
CHRISTOPHER
We think..the vandals behind the Renaissance have a lot to answer for, Grace. As do the misguided proclamation nailers of the Reformation, Alastair. But both herald the rise of bourgeois individualism.
GRACE and ALASTAIR nod and smile in vigorous agreement.
ALASTAIR
Decline begins with sponsors demanding greater window space.
GRACE
History becomes advertising. 
ALASTAIR
All is not lost, though the trees be bare.
GRACE
History has its winters. I love you, Alastair.
ALASTAIR
I love you, Grace.
They embrace. CHRISTINE takes CHRISTOPHER’S hand.
CHRISTOPHER
(re bicycle)
The bike on which he went straight home to the missus after a short detour to the Stonemason’s Arms?
CHRISTINE
Chris suffers from overdeveloped irony. He’s responding to treatment.
JERRY looks out from the belltower:
JERRY
(dictating, loudly)
A large formal garden surrounds the cathedral, bounded by a high stone wall. Over which I see green fields and rolling hills. The fields appear perfectly mown, the woods trimmed. The effect is of a well-watered golf course stretching to the horizon. My father was an enthusiastic golfer, I’m told. A single winding road cuts through the countryside and disappears beyond. From my tower, I glimpse another tower on a distant hill. There is no sign of my father.
He climbs out of sight.
ALASTAIR
Jerry may seem different, but he remains a believer, not a doubter.
CHRISTOPHER
The range of acceptable beliefs has widened since the twelfth century. Thank god.
COLETTE rings the great bell, once. 
The pigeons beat their circular path overhead.
COLETTE
The quarter hour.
GRACE goes to a nearby small archaeological “dig” and resumes scraping at a small, partially-buried object. COLETTE and ALASTAIR occupy themselves in their retreats.
CHRISTOPHER and CHRISTINE exchange looks. What happens next?
CHRISTOPHER
This is everyone?
COLETTE
Attendances decline.
ALASTAIR
We would love a boy soprano.
GRACE
Alastair. 
She has unearthed a small, spoked wheel. Attached to a larger object, still buried. 
GRACE (CONT’D)
A wheel.
ALASTAIR
Another. 
GRACE
Another. 
(to the newcomers)
If history is not known, renovation may equal destruction. 
ALASTAIR
We find ourselves in the church of an unknown saint. 
GRACE
Constructed by unknown labour.
ALASTAIR
We will identify our saint.
GRACE
We will recognise our workers. It will be all right.
ALASTAIR
It will be all right.
They embrace once more.
COLETTE
(to the newcomers)
Will you sit for me? I have a free window.
COLETTE is an Artist. The stained glass is hers. 
CHRISTOPHER
Are these yours? They’re exquisite. 
COLETTE
Beauty need not be a retreat. 
Will you sit?
CHRISTINE
We’d love to, wouldn’t we?
COLETTE
Now?

They climb to her scaffolding retreat. Birds scatter.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
So. Car?
CHRISTOPHER
Just north of Grafton.
CHRISTINE
I distracted him. Apparently.
CHRISTOPHER
We were kissing.
CHRISTINE
While I was asleep. 
CHRISTOPHER
I felt an irresistible urge. The car became jealous and did something stupid.
COLETTE unfurls a large painted backdrop of a garden paradise featuring stylised symbols. Positions CHRISTOPHER and CHRISTINE in front, in classical pose. Adam and Eve, clothed. COLETTE nervily adjusts the poses before and while sketching.
CHRISTINE
We were on our way to Byron. To be married. Finally.
CHRISTOPHER
It was hailed as a miracle. 
CHRISTINE
It was a miracle. 
CHRISTOPHER
We were getting to know each other first.
CHRISTINE
Along with several other people.
CHRISTOPHER
If we’d rushed into things, you’d never have been Miss Southern Beach Girl. Or done toothpaste commercials. 
CHRISTINE
And you’d be short of material for your grunge novel. 
They hug.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
North of Grafton. So close.
ALASTAIR
Why, of course! Of course! You must marry here. You will marry here!
CHRISTINE
Is that possible? 
ALASTAIR
I may be a trifle rusty on the service, but I am sure we will muddle through.
CHRISTOPHER
The ring’s still in the glovebox.
CHRISTINE
I don’t need a ring.
ALASTAIR
All you need is yourselves. 
CHRISTOPHER
Rob was going to be in Byron.
CHRISTINE
Rob was every chance to hock the ring and end up with a local ambo jumping on his chest. Sweet boy though he is. Do you need a Best Man? I don’t need bridesmaids. 
I have the bouquet. 
ALASTAIR
Are we decided?
CHRISTINE
Are we?
CHRISTOPHER
Are you?
CHRISTINE
Yes.
CHRISTOPHER
Yes.
They kiss.
ALASTAIR
Splendid. This is most exciting. Shall we gather, say, in an hour’s time? I must brush up. I last performed the marriage ceremony in 1968. In Vietnam of all places.
CHRISTOPHER
Will an hour be enough? 
ALASTAIR
An hour will be plenty, my boy. You just relax. This is most exciting. 
He collects the bicycle. Places binoculars around his neck.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
The garden glories in birdsong at this time of year.
GRACE partially unearths a second small, spoked wheel, also attached to the still-buried object. 
GRACE
Another wheel! Everything is a sign to the Gothic mind. We close on the identity of our benefactor. No names, no pack drill - 
But ALASTAIR is already pedalling out, singing.
COLETTE
(to the newcomers)
Would you mind if I removed your clothes?
JERRY climbs back down into sight.
JERRY
(dictating)
A thought on time dilation.  Approaching the speed of light, the logical corollary of “life is too short” becomes “why not dilate life?” Time is elastic. Ipso facto, so too the space traveller’s life span. Good news for space travellers. Life is no longer too short. 
COLETTE
Jerry! I’m working.
JERRY
When my father was a boy, and domestic fireworks were legal, I am told he blasted bull-ants into the atmosphere inside the nose cones of sixpenny skyrockets, and delighted in the knowledge that on return, although burnt to a crisp, his astronaut ants had aged fractionally less than control ants who stayed on earth in a Vegemite jar. Change is divine. 
COLETTE
Merde! Jerry! Tais-toi!
JERRY, silenced, disappears up into the tower.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
I would like to undress you. In the work. Art seeks the hidden truth. 
CHRISTOPHER
I’m getting a cramp.
COLETTE activates her one-bar radiator
COLETTE
You are cold? It would be tasteful. I modelled for the Cubists. I know how it feels to be misrepresented. You should have seen what Braque did to me. I sat for them all, dear. I use the term ‘sat’ loosely. Only Modi - Modigliani - made me look good. Those were the days.
CHRISTOPHER
When were those days? If it’s not rude to ask?
COLETTE
It is. Rude to ask. Consider taking off your clothes. Art that does not question is decoration. 
She pours and offers them a small green drink.  
CHRISTOPHER
I don’t drink. I am drunk on life.
CHRISTINE declines. COLETTE downs hers. Resumes sketching.
COLETTE
Modi was too decorative so I moved on. Decorative and doomed. And obsessed with his beloved Jeanne. Enough about me. What about you?
Look at each other, please.
They stare at each other, fixedly. COLETTE frequently alters their pose through the following. Ever dissatisfied.
CHRISTINE
Chris is a writer.
CHRISTOPHER
Christine oversimplifies my rich cv. I’m a discontinued arts student turned psych nurse, retrenched, become budding wordsmith, cum career barman until I lose my looks for gay men, when I intend obtaining a licence to drive a taxi or a nursing home bus. I do well in my first year of everything.
CHRISTINE
Even in our relationship. 
CHRISTOPHER
The challenge fades. 
COLETTE
Please keep still. Just verse?
CHRISTINE
And film scripts. For me. And about me. I’m an actress. 
CHRISTOPHER
She was discovered at Wanda Beach. So to speak. I’ve written one screenplay.
CHRISTINE
And a novel. 
CHRISTOPHER
Unpublished. Which became the unfilmed screenplay. Fingers crossed for a blockbuster tv miniseries. I firmly believe it will happen in my lifetime. 
CHRISTINE
I’m called Karen in it.
CHRISTOPHER
She isn’t only you. 
CHRISTINE
He rolled us all into one. So to speak.
COLETTE
Please keep still. Film is the last refuge of the unimaginative. Television is the culture’s garbage can. 
CHRISTINE
He was the funniest boy I’d ever met. You made me laugh even when I hated you.
CHRISTOPHER
I had a pointless crush on Chrissie at school, for years. She was an early developer. In demand.
CHRISTINE
Chris was backward but ambitious.
CHRISTOPHER
Leading to underage self-medicating at the White Horse.
CHRISTINE
We drifted apart when he went to uni. He needed to experiment. 
CHRISTOPHER
I wasn’t the only one.
CHRISTINE
Luke wasn’t an experiment. Luke was a lapse in taste.
CHRISTOPHER
A published one. Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin. 
CHRISTINE
And optioned. And he had a cool car. 
CHRISTOPHER
He was a serious artist who could take hallucinogens without going dark and tormented. I had ground to make up. I ran a bath and opened a warm vein of melancholy.
CHRISTINE
This lasted several years. Luke lasted six weeks. I waited. There wasn’t any hurry. Until there was.
CHRISTOPHER
Chrissie.
CHRISTINE
Chris and I were at Wanda. Behind our favourite dune. I love how endless Wanda is. 
CHRISTOPHER
Chris. 
CHRISTINE
He felt a lump. In my breast. I had chemo and the rest. I was so sick. They told me it didn’t work. They said I had six months. We refused to accept it. 
COLETTE
Bravo. Bon courage.
CHRISTINE
We decided to get married. To show the disease I was determined to live. I felt it start to go the moment we said yes. I felt it go. Negativity is the disease. I knew I could beat it. Life took another turn. Or failed to take it. 
CHRISTOPHER
A wet hairpin.
JERRY reappears in the belltower. Chuckling.
JERRY
(dictating)
A thought on evolution. Two million years ago, would you have put the house on humanity’s ascent? Would you have put the cave on it? An animal of higher consciousness may yet evolve to challenge human supremacy. A mere seven thousand years were required for all breeds of dog to evolve from the wolf. Cool as. Change is divine. Still no sign of my father. 

Finished, he tucks his tiny earplugs into a pocket/presses a button to retract them. Then has a terrific idea.
JERRY (CONT’D)
Yes! Yes! “Change is divine”! Yes! Colette! “Change Is Divine”. 
He waits for COLETTE’S reaction. Which does not come. 
JERRY (CONT’D)
“Change Is Divine”. Title for my memoirs! Subtitle: “A Physicist Remembers”.
COLETTE
“A 23 Year Old Physicist Remembers”. 
JERRY
Colette resists the proposition that change is now so rapid, a lifetime of experience may be crammed into 23 years. Irony destroys vision, Colette.
COLETTE
He is post-ironic, our Jerry. He has no hidden truth to seek.
A digital voice from JERRY’S suit repeats: “You have mail.” He collects email via flexi-screen inside his jacket. Or..
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Our Jerry, he is post everything. Post-historical, post-political, post-biological, post-emotional. 
JERRY
Post-dag. Armani. Version 2.0 e-suit. 
CHRISTOPHER
Post-humous.
JERRY
Not so. Post posthumous.
COLETTE
He is going back, our Jerry. There is progress on a cure?
JERRY
They’ve identified the problematic chromosome. It’s on my father’s side. He died when I was three. 
COLETTE
Jerry has himself stored in a fridge in Surry Hills.
JERRY
It’s a cryogenic facility. You’ll miss me when I’m gone.
COLETTE
You will be back.
JERRY
Perhaps. On fulfilling my evolutionary and social purpose by fathering as many progeny as possible.
COLETTE
You have told your partner she is doomed only to breed?
JERRY
I have several partners. They’re all up for it once the chromosome patch is installed. I love kids.
Breed like mice is my advice. 
COLETTE
Mice? Mice chew paper. 
JERRY
What do our rookies think? About procreation.
CHRISTINE
We think..we want a boy and a girl.
COLETTE
Christopher? Look this way, please?
CHRISTOPHER
Breaking news?
JERRY
This way? 
CHRISTINE
Just a passing thought.
JERRY
Multiply. Up the evolutionary odds. Patent the gene when you score.
COLETTE
Art is an only child. She exhausts me. I love you, Jerry.
JERRY
I love you, Colette.
They embrace.
JERRY (CONT’D)
We design our world.
COLETTE
We need art to give it meaning.
JERRY
Life is meant to be easy.
COLETTE
Without art, there is no life.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
It will be all right.
JERRY
It will be all right. 
JERRY rings the great bell, twice. 
The pigeons again beat their circular path overhead.
CHRISTINE
Not long, darling.
CHRISTOPHER
I’ve doubled my lithium. 
CHRISTINE embraces him.
CHRISTINE
It will be all right.
CHRISTOPHER
It will be all right.
CHRISTINE peruses COLETTE’S sketches. With surprise.
GRACE
I took the liberty of disrobing you.
GRACE frees the buried object: a small two-wheeled wooden cart, dirt-encrusted but intact. 
GRACE (CONT’D)
A little wooden cart. 
She transports it to her desk, sits, painstakingly brush-cleans the object. Looks up at the “damp patch”.
GRACE (CONT’D)
It’s getting bigger. 
(unperturbed)
Chartres was rebuilt six times. Salvation lay in good workmanship. 
The light inside the cathedral becomes grey, shadowy. A cloud seems to pass over the sun outside. Followed by a puzzling sound from above: intermittent, soft beats on the roof, heavier, more dispersed than rain.
GRACE holds out her hand. It remains dry.
A fish falls through a roof hole, just missing CHRISTOPHER. 
CHRISTOPHER
Shit - !
Another fish falls. Another. It rains fish. In large numbers. A school, if not visible, at least audible on the roof.
COLETTE
This is nothing. Nothing. Please resume your positions.
GRACE
It rains all manner of things here.
JERRY
(excited)
Waterspouts. Rapid circular motion of air, causing deep low pressure, pfft, up they go. Fish, frogs, snails, nematodes.. 
CHRISTOPHER
Dorothy. 
JERRY
Until nature plays the Newton card. 
(dictating)
My father was an enthusiastic angler, according to my mother. Right until the end, he could be found on the beach every morning, before sunrise. Apparently he sometimes took me with him. He left me his old bamboo rod and Alvey sidewinder reel. Which his father had left him.
The rain stops. They approach the fish. Wary wonderment. GRACE studies one particular fish. The others gather. 
GRACE
My goodness. My stars. This is new.
COLETTE
Merde.
GRACE
It has two heads.
CHRISTOPHER
Better than one.
GRACE
Birth of freaks. A traditional portent in the Gothic mind.  
JERRY
Nature is a long odds punter. 
COLETTE
Dinner by Dali. I sat for them all. They were all disappointing. 
CHRISTOPHER
A thirteenth century chronicle records a ten pound cod missing Emperor Frederick II by inches. Frederick was thought by many to be the AntiChrist. A notion confirmed by what seemed to be a divine assassination attempt.
CHRISTINE
He can’t help himself. It’s alive! Is it? 
JERRY
A final electrochemical reflex. I hope I’m wrong. I’m sure I am. 
CHRISTINE
Water.
She fetches a vessel - a relic - of water for the fish. 
COLETTE
It is alive?
GRACE
It will be stunned from the fall.
CHRISTINE
Move water through its gills. 
COLETTE
Doucement. Gently. 
CHRISTINE
Fight, fish. Fight. Its tail moved! Did you see?
COLETTE
Là! Là! Voilà!
JERRY
Yes!
CHRISTINE
Go, fish!
Go, fish! excitement all round.
ALASTAIR returns. With a flat tyre. 
ALASTAIR
I have a puncture. A nice slow one. The tyre is still half full. 
He displays his bicycle basket, full of fish.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Faith must be tested.
COLETTE
We have one with two heads.
ALASTAIR
Good Lord. Two heads. My word. Wonderful. Wonderful.
He gently lifts the 2-headed fish from the water.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
What do we think?
JERRY
Piscatorial progress. Nature eschewing incremental change to evolve in giant leaps.
GRACE
Co-operation. Social equality. 
COLETTE
Beauty is never pretty. Beauty may be cruel. There is beauty in suffering.
ALASTAIR
Christine?
CHRISTINE takes CHRISTOPHER’S arm, with affection.
CHRISTINE
The will to live.
A beat. They look to CHRISTOPHER.
CHRISTOPHER
The old familiar fishy dualism. The pessimism-optimism schism. Comedy and tragedy, love and hate, Adam and Eve. True and false. Life and death. The reconciliation of opposites to find the way forward. 
CHRISTINE
Hope. Is what he is trying to say.
CHRISTOPHER
Hope.
ALASTAIR
Hope. Marvellous, my boy. Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter. Ichthus. Fish, in the Greek.  Acronym for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. Drawn on catacomb walls. Participant in Biblical miracles. The disciples are fishers of men. A fish the sign of Peter, the gatekeeper. The Fisherman’s Ring worn by his papal successors. The baptismal font la piscina, “the fishpond”. Converts, pisciculi, “little fishes”. A multitude of good signs. 
He ceremonially returns the fish to the water.
CHRISTOPHER
It has no problem navigating, despite being in two minds. 
COLETTE
It agrees with itself.
GRACE
Or agrees to disagree. 
ALASTAIR
And live in harmony.
CHRISTOPHER
Pop it in the pan? For the wedding feast.
CHRISTINE
It can live in the fountain.
ALASTAIR
Of course. Wonderful.
CHRISTOPHER
We have to give it a name so we won’t eat it. Pisces.
CHRISTOPHER reaches for CHRISTINE’S hand. She gives it. They exit with the fish. 
GRACE wheels the cleaned wooden cart along the desk.
GRACE
More wheels. 
ALASTAIR
Ah. 
GRACE
It could be coincidence.
ALASTAIR
What could be?
COLETTE
A child’s toy, no?
GRACE
A toy tipcart, or a haycart. 
JERRY examines the cart. Spins a wheel.
JERRY
At a certain rpm, a spoked wheel appears to rotate backwards because the eye receives light in finite packets at a particular frequency.
GRACE
It might not be a toy.  
Lights fade.
JERRY
Prototype for a paperboy’s cart. I built my first computer on paperboy’s wages. I may personally have made Dick Smith a rich man. They say my father was a paperboy too. As was his father. I was the last in a long line of paperboys. Digital technology renders paperboys obsolete.

Scene 2
Hand in hand, the LOVERS enter the garden: source image for COLETTE’S “Paradise” backdrop. A fountain, octagonal in plan, stands in the middle. Four streams of water bubble up from its centre and radiate north, south, east, west. Bird song mixes with the sound of bubbling water.
CHRISTINE
So beautiful. This is so beautiful.
She and CHRISTOPHER kiss, lovingly. Together they release the fish into the pond at the fountain base.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Off you go.
They watch the fish explore its new home.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Yes, yes, it’s exciting, isn’t it? Never give up, fish.
(wry)
“The pessimism-optimism schism”. Very insightful, Christopher. 
CHRISTOPHER
Heartfelt.
CHRISTINE
There is hope for you.
CHRISTOPHER
I hope so. Hope is all. Fake it till you make it.
CHRISTINE takes CHRISTOPHER’S hand. They explore the garden. Exult in the beauty. Smell the perfume of the flowers.
CHRISTINE
Oh. Oh. How glorious is that? 
CHRISTOPHER
I could get drunk on that. If I wasn’t already drunk on life.
CHRISTINE
Look. Look. 

They observe a bird, seeming to hover amid the flowers. 
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Oh, you beautiful thing. 

CHRISTINE holds out her hand. The bird seems to hop onto it.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Aren’t you scared of me, you beautiful beautiful thing? Fly.
CHRISTOPHER and CHRISTINE lie on the ground. She rests her head in his lap, in classical fashion.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Death didn’t part us. I told you everything would be all right.
CHRISTOPHER
We might wake up. 
CHRISTINE
Don’t spoil it.
CHRISTOPHER
This is against everything I stand for as an atheist.
CHRISTINE
Don’t spoil it. I wonder if there’s a beach? I never told you: it was the sea that kept me going. The sea and you. I’d lie there and feel myself dive through a glassy paper- thin curl, then the spray of the westerly sting my face as I popped  out and looked back at wonderful, endless Wanda, and I’d tell myself I wasn’t going to lose that, there was no way.
CHRISTOPHER
The sea and me.
CHRISTINE
The sea and you. Both beautiful, both unfathomable. Were you really kissing me? While I was asleep?
They embrace and kiss. Deeply.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
(teasing)
Now you have me for eternity, darling.
CHRISTOPHER
Eternity is too short. Alternatively, time flies. 
They kiss again.
CHRISTINE
We don’t have to get married. I won’t hold you to it, now. 
CHRISTOPHER
I want to marry you.
JERRY passes, oblivious to their presence.
JERRY
(dictating)
My companions comprise a curious gene pool. Colette modelled for luminaries of the modernist avant garde. Grace wrote a socialist analysis of Gothic architecture, apparently much admired by Stalin. Alastair was an army chaplain.
Christopher and Christine appear to be directionless dreamers. I myself am the youngest member of a futurist think tank advising the Microsoft Corporation, NASA, and the Alessi Company, among others. The rationale behind the selection and the number continues to elude me. As do the whereabouts of my father. The quest continues. I remain optimistic of dialogue.
He exits.
CHRISTOPHER
Directionless dreamers? He seems quite perceptive otherwise. A little driven. A mite flakey. They all seem nice, don’t they? If a little driven. And a mite flakey. And completely mistaken. There is a dignity in lost causes.
CHRISTINE
Don’t spoil it.
CHRISTOPHER
Blind faith is rewarded. Sad cases made happy.
CHRISTINE
Look at you. 
CHRISTOPHER
Look at me. Happy Pollyanna Pangloss. All disbelief suspended. 
She kisses him.
CHRISTINE
They are happy, Chris. 
CHRISTOPHER
So they are.
CHRISTINE
So are we. What about children? We haven’t talked about children. Not recently.
CHRISTOPHER
A positive too far, maybe?
CHRISTINE
Is there such a thing?
CHRISTOPHER
You needed to focus on you. We needed to focus on you.
CHRISTINE
I’m not sick any more. I want a boy and a girl. 
CHRISTOPHER
So I hear.
CHRISTINE
I’ve known for years.
CHRISTOPHER
I know.
CHRISTINE
What else are we going to do?
Pause.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
We know we can. Have a child. They said there’s no problem. I could again.
CHRISTOPHER
Might be a positive too far, here, too. We don’t know.
CHRISTINE
Alastair doesn’t think so.
CHRISTOPHER
Would he know the first thing? 
CHRISTINE
It’s why we’re here. Here, here. 
She moves on top of him, kisses him again. 
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
More breaking news. I’m ovulating. Gimme gimme gimme.
CHRISTOPHER
You can’t ovulate here!
CHRISTINE
I’m ovulating. Gimme gimme gimme.
CHRISTOPHER
Not here.
CHRISTINE
Behind those bushes.
CHRISTOPHER
Frighten Alastair’s birds. 
CHRISTINE
Birds aren’t frightened of love. 
How do you know the others aren’t at it like rabbits? 
CHRISTOPHER
Monsignor Alastair? At it? Like a rabbit?
CHRISTINE
He wants a boy soprano. Shut off your brain and just do it.
He slips from her grasp. Stands. Mood clouding.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Well?
CHRISTOPHER
Well?
CHRISTINE
We still want different things, do we? 

CHRISTOPHER stares at the fish in the fountain.
CHRISTOPHER
It won’t get lonely. 
CHRISTINE
Still not ready? 
CHRISTOPHER
Maybe it grew up under high tension wires. Or its mother swam past a nuclear reactor. 
CHRISTINE
You’ll never be ready? Is that what the Dark Prince is saying?
CHRISTOPHER
We haven’t been here twenty four hours.
CHRISTINE
Billions of people aren’t ready. They take a chance and live with it. 
CHRISTOPHER
They screw up the kids as they do.
Pause.
CHRISTINE
I’ll never forget the look on your face. When I showed you the test result.
CHRISTOPHER
Don’t. OK? Don’t, Chris.
CHRISTINE
A man strapped in the chair, still looking round for a laugh. To make it go away. I made it go away. Hoovered it right out of existence.
CHRISTOPHER
You weren’t sure either.
CHRISTINE
I let you go too. You came back.
CHRISTOPHER
It might not be one fish with two heads. It could be two fish with  one body. It could be a bad sign.
CHRISTINE
You wish.
CHRISTOPHER
I wouldn’t want two heads.
CHRISTINE
You’d love it. You could take self-obsession to new levels.
ALASTAIR enters, binoculars around neck.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
The garden is gorgeous, Alastair.
ALASTAIR spots a bird and deploys the binoculars.
ALASTAIR
Channel-billed cuckoo.
He passes the binoculars to CHRISTINE.
CHRISTINE
Gorgeous.
ALASTAIR
They pass through this time of year. Looking for someone to raise their young for them.
CHRISTINE
Do they have any luck?
CHRISTOPHER
What were you doing performing marriages in Vietnam?
ALASTAIR
One marriage. A soldier wed a local girl. I ministered to his unit.
GRACE rings the great bell, three times.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
I was hoping we might squeeze in a little last minute choir practice. Unless you two need more time?
CHRISTINE
Do we?
CHRISTOPHER
I don’t.
ALASTAIR
Marvellous.
ALASTAIR starts to go, stops, deploys his binoculars.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Grey shrike thrush.
He mimics its beautiful song, talks to it, and exits.
CHRISTOPHER
I need a hobby. A distraction.
CHRISTINE
(ultimatum)
A boy and a girl.
She turns and exits. CHRISTOPHER tarries a moment.
He hears the choir begin to sing, inside.


Scene 3
Inside the cathedral.
ALASTAIR’S conducts the choral group, including CHRISTINE, in Hymn 27, “Abide With Me”. Mellow, soulful, tinged with a melancholy..as at the falling of dusk..

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness gathers, Lord with me abide
CHRISTOPHER enters. The eyes of the choir follow him as he positions himself self-consciously on the sidelines. He opens his mouth, and appears to sing. But does he?
ALASTAIR moves to CHRISTOPHER, leans in close, and listens.
ALASTAIR puts a finger to his lips as if to say “ssh”, pats CHRISTOPHER on the chest instructively, and moves away. CHRISTOPHER no longer even appears to sing. 
High above, the dark discolouration in the stonework seems to spread, slowly, before our eyes. GRACE is first to notice. She stares as it becomes a large blot-like form..
GRACE
It’s moving. Look. It’s moving. 
ALASTAIR concludes the song prematurely. 
ALASTAIR
Faith must be - oh my goodness.
The shape resembles nothing in particular. Or then again..
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Oh my goodness. 
Could it be the head and shoulders of the Virgin Mary, with halo, in prayerful repose? 
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Mary. It assumes the shape of Mary. Look. Mary.
COLETTE
Mary by Modigliani. The elongated curvature. Mary as Modi would have painted her. Unmistakeable. Mary by Modi.
GRACE
Mary by the workers. A pentimento of labour’s protectress. Workers’ Mary. 
JERRY
Fractal Mary. Warm weather,  convectional rainfall, porous stone, capillary action, Mary by chance. Mary from chaos. Cool.
ALASTAIR
Do you see?
CHRISTINE
Yes. Yes. I do.
(to CHRISTOPHER)
Look. There’s her face, draped in a shawl. See? With a halo above? And her hands clasped below? See?
CHRISTOPHER doesn’t see.
ALASTAIR
(Stunned)
Oh my. Oh my. 
COLETTE
Alastair?
ALASTAIR
It isn’t Mary. It is Catherine. It’s Catherine. 
COLETTE
Catherine of the green eyes?
ALASTAIR becomes unsteady on his feet. COLETTE catches him.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Alastair?
ALASTAIR
I’m all right. I’m all right. I might sit down. 
COLETTE and GRACE support ALASTAIR away, to sit. He stares - in distress - at the image on the stonework. 
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
I’m fine now. I’m fine. I’m fine.
COLETTE
What happened to your Catherine?
ALASTAIR
I was assigned to Vietnam.
He cries.
COLETTE
It’s all right. It’s all right. You loved her.
ALASTAIR
Not well. I did not love her well.
Amor spiritualis facile labitur in nudum carnalem amorem. Spiritual love falls easily into sheer carnal love. 
COLETTE
It didn’t with you.
ALASTAIR looks at COLETTE: Didn’t it? Or did it? 
GRACE returns with water. She stares at the image. 
GRACE
It’s not your Catherine. 
ALASTAIR
It is. Oh, it is. 
GRACE
The halo. Look at the halo. Spokes.
The halo seems to display spokes. Like a wheel.
GRACE (CONT’D)
Another wheel. It is Catherine, but not your Catherine. It’s Catherine of Alexandria. We are in Saint Catherine’s. This is Saint Catherine’s. The wheels. The wheels. Her symbol.
She displays the spoked-marked plate, the toy cart..
GRACE (CONT’D)
The wheel upon which she was broken but did not die. Catherine, protectress of the dying, patron of wheelwrights, spinners, and millers.
ALASTAIR
Oh my goodness.
GRACE
When finally beheaded, it was said she bled milk. 
CHRISTOPHER
I can’t see her.
CHRISTINE
Of course you can.
CHRISTOPHER
I can’t. Sorry.
CHRISTINE
You must see her. Look. There’s her face - 
CHRISTOPHER
I can’t see her. Not Mary by Modi, Mary by man, Mary by chance, Mary by god. I can’t see Saint Catherine or Catherine Green Eyes either. 
CHRISTOPHER’S reaction confuses and concerns.
CHRISTINE
He does this. 
CHRISTOPHER
I can see a damp patch. 
ALASTAIR
I will be in the garden.
He exits. COLETTE, GRACE, JERRY move to their retreats to allow the estranged Lovers to reconnect. 
COLETTE
But this is nothing. Nothing.
GRACE
(fading)
Saint Catherine rejected marriage to be a bride of Christ. She disputed fifty non-believing philosophers, with success.
CHRISTINE
You’re losing it, are you?
CHRISTOPHER
Belief fatigue.
CHRISTINE
Already. Don’t go dark. Please? It’s not the place.
CHRISTOPHER
The fish, the damp. The lost causes. The relentless will to believe is exhausting.
CHRISTINE
Unclench the sphincter on your shoulders. 
Pause.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Relentlessly believing I’d get better, was that exhausting too? Having a girlfriend without hair? Belief fatiguing, was it?
CHRISTOPHER
It was life and death, not a damp patch on a crumbling wall in an over-ventilated heritage shed. And I can see her anyway. I can see her. I can see Mary.
CHRISTINE
Good. 
CHRISTOPHER
More by Michaelangelo than Modigliani. The stout plumpness. A touch of the Sistine. I could see her before. I felt like disagreeing. Perfection isn’t lovable. I want to be lovable. 
CHRISTINE
Happy Pollyanna Pangloss is lovable. The Dark Prince is a pain.
CHRISTOPHER
I can also see my mother, smiling. See? She’s just had a glass of sherry and her cheeks are shining.
CHRISTINE
Don’t push it.
COLETTE rings the great bell three times. 
The pigeons beat their path overhead. 
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Last chance to change your mind.
CHRISTOPHER
There’s still the altar. How can you not see my mother?
ALASTAIR returns, in good spirits once more, bearing flowers. The others emerge from their retreats to join him.
COLETTE
Better?
ALASTAIR
Thankyou. Catherine and I still cross paths from time to time. To move on once more. For the bride.
CHRISTINE
He can see her after all. 
ALASTAIR
Marvellous. We never doubted it. 
CHRISTOPHER
Minor adjustment glitch. Fell into the schism. A wisp of cloud momentarily obscured the silver lining. 
ALASTAIR
A rose for the groom’s lapel. I haven’t felt so excited in ages.
CHRISTOPHER
I can also see my mother. Happy for me. It could be your mother, Chrissie. Remember her smile?
ALASTAIR
She gives the marriage her blessing.
CHRISTOPHER
She was very fond of me.
ALASTAIR
What is the universe but a multitude of hopeful signs? 
CHRISTINE
Where do you want us? Can I enter? I’d like to walk down the aisle.
ALASTAIR
Of course. It may be wise to steer clear of the north wall. A little joke. Perhaps you would like to be given away?
CHRISTOPHER
Her father gave her away years ago.
CHRISTINE
After he read your novel. You’re never going to stop, are you?
CHRISTOPHER
The fruit of our loins may inherit the problem.
JERRY
De nada. There will be a chromosome patch.
ALASTAIR
A friend may also give the bride. 
CHRISTINE
I prefer to enter alone. No offence.
ALASTAIR
Best man?
CHRISTOPHER
No. You’re a good man, Jerry, but you’re not Rob. No offence.
CHRISTINE
We’d also like to take the “obey” bit out of the ceremony.
CHRISTOPHER
And add a short admonitory reference to “control freak”.
ALASTAIR
As you wish. Shall we take our places?
CHRISTOPHER
A boy and a girl? What if we have two the same? Will you want to keep trying for the set?
CHRISTINE
You are sure, Christopher, are you?
CHRISTOPHER
Positive. 
CHRISTINE exits, so to make her “entrance”.
CHRISTOPHER takes his traditional place, alone, waiting.
ALASTAIR tolls the hour on the great bell. Then follows with the vigorous joyful peal of wedding bells. Loud and long.
The pigeons beat a panicked path until the bells cease.
ALASTAIR, COLETTE, GRACE, and JERRY, sing.
CHRISTINE enters and walks slowly down the aisle, to join CHRISTOPHER.
The singing concludes.
ALASTAIR
Dearly beloved. We are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation..
A long-tailed comet passes slowly overhead.
COLETTE
Is one due? 
JERRY
A new comet is an old comet with orbital period longer than memory. The Oort Band throws one off every 26 million years.
CHRISTINE
During the Byron comet, a statue wept tears of blood, for days.
CHRISTOPHER
A fibre glass statue.
GRACE
The blood was tested? 
CHRISTINE
Yes. 
JERRY
Cool. 
ALASTAIR
(to the couple)
It is a sign your time of commitment is at hand.
COLETTE
It’s getting bigger. (the comet)
JERRY
It’s getting closer.
CHRISTINE
Should we be alarmed?
JERRY
The last big one may have taken out the dinosaurs.
ALASTAIR
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony..
PETER, the boy from the Prologue, appears in the doorway. Dripping wet, blue of skin, shivering, in shock. Drowned.
A moment passes before he is noticed. Another before his fate registers. He vomits seawater. Is wracked with coughing.
GRACE
Get blankets.
PETER is wrapped up. He dry retches.
GRACE (CONT’D)
That’s it. Nearly finished.
COLETTE arrives with her ageing heater.
COLETTE
Let’s get you warmed up. That’s better, isn’t it?
PETER sits close to the heater, curled up, mute. GRACE and COLETTE comfort him, rub his back.
ALASTAIR
What’s your name, child? Can you tell us your name?
GRACE
My name is Grace. This is Colette, and Alastair.
ALASTAIR
You’re all right now, little one. Everything will be all right now.
PETER
Is mum here? 
ALASTAIR
No. Mum’s not here.
PETER
I’m in trouble, aren’t I?
ALASTAIR
No, you’re not in trouble. Not at all.
GRACE
It was an accident, wasn’t it? I’m sure it was. We all had accidents.
COLETTE
I fell out a window. How silly am I?
ALASTAIR
I was knocked off my bicycle. 
GRACE
I was bitten by a snake.
ALASTAIR
You’re safe now. We’re all safe now.
PETER
Mum said not to go on our own. Juliet went out too far.
COLETTE
Juliet, she is your sister? Friend?
PETER
Sister. I had to save her. 
JERRY
You’re a hero, then. Can I shake your hand? I’m Jerry. I’ve never met a hero before. 
JERRY takes a Gameboy from his pocket.
JERRY (CONT’D)
This is for you. I’ve been saving it for the right person. 
PETER stares at the Gameboy.  
JERRY (CONT’D)
I’ll bet you’re good at it. Want me to switch it on for you?
PETER shakes his head.
JERRY (CONT’D)
You just tell me when you’re ready. In the meantime, Mr Hero, how about you tell me your name?
PETER
Peter.
JERRY
Cool name. How old are you, Peter?
PETER
Seven.
ALASTAIR
Do you like to sing, Peter? Would you like to join our choir?
CHRISTOPHER
Is this the right time, Alastair?
ALASTAIR
We were singing just as you arrived. Christine and Christopher are getting married.
CHRISTINE
Hi, Peter.
ALASTAIR
Would you like to sing with the choir at the wedding? Perhaps Christopher has need of a young groomsman?
JULIET, PETER’S sister, appears in the doorway. Wet, blue, shivering, in shock. Drowned.
PETER
Juliet!
JULIET
Where’s mum? Peter, where’s mum? 
JULIET is calmed, wrapped in a blanket.
PETER
She’s not here, Juliet.
JULIET
Where is she? I want mum. 
PETER
Don’t cry, Juliet. Stop crying.
COLETTE
It’s OK, Peter. Juliet is allowed to cry. Come and sit in front of the fire.
JULIET
I want to go home. 
GRACE
Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be all right now.
CHRISTOPHER
(Sotto)
Bullshit it is. 
CHRISTINE
Chris.
She leads him aside.
CHRISTOPHER
Is he going to press-gang her into the choir too? 
CHRISTINE
Deep breath.
JERRY produces a Barbie doll.
JERRY
This is for you, Juliet. I’ve been saving her. It’s Scientist Barbie.
PETER
I got a Gameboy.
JULIET, unimpressed with Barbie, covets Peter’s Gameboy. 
JULIET
I want that. Can I have it? 
PETER
It’s mine.
JERRY
Don’t you like Barbie? Now you’ve made Barbie sad.
JULIET
I hate Barbie.
JULIET tosses Barbie aside and grabs the Gameboy. PETER hangs on. They fight, wildly.
JULIET (CONT’D)
Give it to me! Give it to me!
PETER
Ha ha.
JULIET
(in tears)
He always gets good things! It’s not fair!
JERRY
Don’t underestimate Scientist Barbie. She can overcome gender bias and formulate a Theory of Everything to win the Nobel Prize.
JULIET knocks Barbie away, violently.
GRACE presents the wooden toy cart. 
GRACE
Would you like to play with this? It’s very special. You must promise to be gentle. It’s very old.
JULIET
I don’t like old things.
GRACE
This is a very special sort of old. There’s probably only one of these toys left in the whole world.
JULIET plays happily with the cart, PETER with his Gameboy.
CHRISTOPHER
(Sharply)
Well? What do we think? God? Sandbar collapse? Man? Swamped by a Jetski? Physics? Butterfly flaps a  wing in Brazil, freak wave in Coogee? 
CHRISTINE
You’re not helping.
CHRISTOPHER
Social change? Lifesavers on strike. Legal liability crisis. 
JULIET
We saw a man on a horse!
PETER
Inside a black cloud. At the beach.
ALASTAIR
Did you only see one? Or were there more?
JULIET
He scared me.
JULIET tries to pull a wheel off the cart. 
GRACE
Child! Don’t do that! This is a very precious cart, Juliet. You must be very gentle with it. Do you want to give it back to me?
JULIET
No.
GRACE
Please don’t pull the wheels off.
CHRISTOPHER
Let her pull the wheels off if she wants. She’s six years old and she’s just drowned. Let her smash it if she wants. 
CHRISTINE
Deep breath. 
CHRISTOPHER
I’d be a tad touchy if I was six and ripped from mum and dad and the world for no reason. Or can we put an optimistic spin on that?
CHRISTINE
She’s with her brother. 
CHRISTOPHER
It could be worse, couldn’t it?
ALASTAIR
Faith is pain as well as joy, or it is not faith.
CHRISTOPHER
Kids. You’re here as a test of faith. Not yours. You’re too young. But everyone else’s. Especially mum and dad’s. They’re little kids! 
ALASTAIR
There will be a purpose.  
CHRISTOPHER
We can take some positives out of this, can we? 
(to COLETTE)
A Drowned Children window should bring in a few pilgrims in. 
COLETTE
This cracks all our hearts.
CHRISTOPHER
Maybe now you won’t have to go back for kids, Jerry. Maybe a whole ferryload went down. Budding volunteers - conscripts - for the socialist project, Grace. 
CHRISTINE
He’ll tire himself out soon.
COLETTE returns with a bottle for CHRISTOPHER. 

CHRISTOPHER
I don’t drink. 
COLETTE
One little drink will not hurt you. 
CHRISTOPHER
One little drink will not be enough. 
COLETTE
I have opium. Alastair does not approve. You would like a pipe?
CHRISTOPHER
I’d love a pipe. But I don’t smoke either. Maybe if you smoked I could passively inhale a little?
He looks at CHRISTINE.
CHRISTINE
You don’t need my permission.
JULIET
I want to go home. 
PETER
You can’t.
ALASTAIR
I’m afraid Peter’s right -
JULIET
I’m going home right now.
PETER
You can’t, Juliet. You have to stay.
PETER grabs JULIET’S arm. They struggle.
JULIET
I don’t! You can’t make me! 
JERRY and GRACE try to separate them.
GRACE
Now now. Now now. Little birds in their nest should agree.
JERRY
You’ll have lots of fun here, Juliet. We’re going to have lots of fun, you and me. 
JULIET
You’re not my daddy! I want my daddy!
She hits JERRY, repeatedly, with Barbie. 
JERRY
I miss my father too, sweetheart. But I know I’ll meet him again one day. Just like you’ll meet - 
He tries to pick JULIET up, to hug her. 
She squeals wildly and bites him, hard, on the hand. Then holds on like a pit bull.
JERRY howls, prises her off, drops her. And - momentarily - raises his hand to hit her.
GRACE
Jerry!

JULIET snarls, bares her teeth. A feral six year old, fighting for life. Clutching the toy cart. And Barbie.
JERRY
She drew blood.
JERRY returns to his retreat. COLETTE returns to hers.
GRACE
Child. Child. We’re your friends.
ALASTAIR
Dear child. Will you let me tell you a very beautiful story?
He approaches. JULIET snarls savagely. He stops.
A beam of light hits the doorway, from outside.
JULIET
(to PETER)
I’m going home. And you can’t come with me. 
She backs away. PETER does not follow. The others watch. 
JULIET (CONT’D)
I’m going now.
ALASTAIR
She is leaving us.
GRACE
Please give me the cart, Juliet.
JULIET
No. I’m going now. I’m going. I’m going now. Bye bye, Peter.
PETER
Bye.
JULIET backs out the door, and is gone. 
ALASTAIR
How long was she here?
GRACE
Not too long.
ALASTAIR
Will you excuse me?
He returns to his retreat. As does GRACE. 
CHRISTINE sits beside PETER, staring into the heater. CHRISTOPHER remains standing.
CHRISTOPHER
(soft)
Still want kids?
JERRY, in his retreat, all but motionless, resembles an illuminated statue in the stonework. Or maybe a player in a “Son et Lumière” production: “If These Walls Could Speak.”
JERRY
(dictating)
A child bit me. Little bitch drew blood. I almost bit her back. I wanted to knock her across the room. Little bitch. I lost control. 
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
In crisis I experience a profoundly primitive sequence of electrochemical reactions. A foul organic acid squirts into my digestive tract. It seems to splash up the oesophagus and burn behind my eyes. My teeth and fists clench. My neck compresses. Sweat appears on my temples. I would describe the experience as highly unpleasant. 
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I then experience what I identify as remorse, followed by shame, then despair. How ancient are these wirings? I am now consumed by loneliness. The feeling resembles a low grade bodily ache, with a core of..nothing, really.
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I wanted to show love. Rejection transformed it instantly into hate. This is unacceptable. I am not post-emotional. Colette exaggerates my position. That is art, I believe. I did not believe I was capable of knocking a child across a room. 
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I miss my father. What is the experience of missing, precisely? I remember only a photo. Will I know him when I see him? He knew he was dying but still fathered me. If I do not have children, will I experience a state of “missing” both up and down the bloodline?
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
Missing is merely the electro-chemical awareness of absence. Doubt, the electrochemical absence of certainty. We will progress these recalcitrant wirings. Everything is possible. We are matter. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed. My father’s molecules are here, somewhere. They go on forever. If they no longer resemble like him, it is of no importance. He remains. Grace?
A light rises on GRACE, in her retreat, writing at her desk. She too resembles an illuminated part of the stonework. 
GRACE
Humankind continues to shock,  terribly, but you learn it is not the end. Never the end. You heard about the Show Trials from a teacher. They shot Bukharin. You believed that was the end. It wasn’t. You cancelled your twenty first birthday party in grief at the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact. You thought that too was the end. It wasn’t. You thought it was the end, really the end, in 1956. Remember? Kruschev denounces Stalin? Hungary plays the USSR in water polo at Melbourne? Blood in the water? Was that the end? No. When the Berlin Wall went up. Was that the end? No. When The Wall came down? No. It is not the end now, either. Better a disappointed socialist than a gloating capitalist. Early days.
Pause.
GRACE (CONT’D)
The idea has not failed the people. People have failed the idea. It remains a great idea. Great ideas are seized by the corrupt and the ruthless, who desire its greatness for themselves. The gentle are overrun. Yet not forever. The best in human nature will out. It is never the end. 
Pause.
GRACE (CONT’D)
No god. No master. We need only believe in ourselves. Eternity lies in our effect on others. Eternity lies in history. We go on.
She looks up, smiling, revivified. Then looks to COLETTE, now illuminated, lying down, grimly smoking an opium pipe.
COLETTE
The Drowned Child. Transcend that, Colette. Give meaning with a brush, Colette. Expropriate the suffering, Colette. You bitch. Thief of souls.
She takes a deep unhappy inhalation on her pipe.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Vache! Vache! Vache triste! “We will change the world”. 
(long bitter laugh)
Art changes nothing but the wall on which it hangs. The wall changes the art, renders it decoration. The owner’s bank balance changes. In time. 
She enters a reverie.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
I fell out a window. Unkind people said I copied Jeanne Hébuterne. Modi’s lover. I never copy. She jumped. I fell. I never copy. I am burdened by an imagination. Creativity plagues me.
She inhales deeply. Enters an even deeper, sadder, reverie.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Guillaume. Oh Guillaume. I have been alone since you left for Verdun. You became fragments on other men’s jackets. Nothing could be identified. A whiz-bang rendered you..abstract.
Pause.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
It would not have lasted. I am impossible to live with, my sweet. You knew that as you marched away. I still keep your beauty inside me.
Pause.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
The beauty we leave behind is all. Art cannot change life. Art is life. Without art, we become.. Jerry.
She laughs, wracking her frame with tubercular vigour.
Light rises on ALASTAIR. He kneels in prayer. 
ALASTAIR
Help me, Catherine. Help me understand.
He waits. Lifts head, opens eyes. With great sorrow he “sees” Catherine in the stonework. His hands question.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
A child has been delivered by the sea. There were two. One has returned. There is anger in my heart. There is doubt in my mind. I have asked bitter questions of my Lord. I know the answers lie beyond my understanding. But I am vain. The questions linger. This is vanity. Superbia. Still they sting my soul.
Pause.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Dispute with me, Catherine. Patron of philosophers. Patron of young girls. Patron of the dying. Dispute with me.
He stares long at “Catherine”. Tears form in his eyes. 
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
I have also asked bitter questions of you. Why did we not speak? Why did we not speak when our paths first crossed? I replaced the light in your eyes with music. I made music your voice. I would blind myself, I would make myself deaf, to be with you. Was I weak to be tempted? Was I strong to resist? Dispute with me. Tell me you did not love me too. When I lay dying, I saw you. I saw you. I thought only of seeing you again. Forgive me. Dear Catherine. Forgive me. 
He bows his head in prayer.
When he looks up, he is unburdened. He smiles.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Get thee behind me, Satan. Tested, we are restored. Suffering turns intelligence into souls. If we believe we hope, and if we hope, we love. 
CHRISTOPHER/CHRISTINE/PETER are illuminated.
The illuminated positions - incl CHRISTOPHER/CHRISTINE/PETER -  form the circumference of a Wheel, Rose Window at the centre.
CHRISTINE embraces PETER, strokes his forehead. He remains in shock, rocking slightly. CHRISTINE rocks slowly, in rhythm.
CHRISTINE
It’s going to be all right. It’s going to be all right. It’s going to be all right. It’s all going to be fine, little man. 
PETER does not show a response.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
I know you’re sad. It’s ok to be sad. The sadness will go away. You’ll be happy again. I promise. 
You’ll see Juliet again. You’ll see them all again. Soon. While you’re waiting, I’ll look after you. Will you let me look after you?
PETER nods.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
I want to make you happy again. I was very sad, once. I thought I was never going to see someone again, too. Do you know what I did, Peter? I made a picture in my mind. Of a big piece of newspaper. And I took all the bad thoughts in my mind and wrapped them up, very tight, in this newspaper. Then I threw them in the rubbish bin. I do this whenever the bad thoughts come back. Then I tell myself to think about good things. About things I want to happen. Do you know what? Good things happen. I discovered if you think about good things, good things happen.
PETER is asleep.
The defining lights of the wheel grow dimmer. 
CHRISTOPHER
I can’t stay here. 
CHRISTINE stays focussed on PETER. She lays him down.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
Rain of fish? Damp Patch Mary? OK. Fine. This is different. I don’t want any part of this.
CHRISTINE
Any part of what?
CHRISTOPHER
This. Where little children die. And we’re supposed to believe in good. The world’s good. God’s good. There’s nothing good. On earth or in heaven or anywhere else. Not if children die.
CHRISTINE
It’s all bad and there’s no hope.
CHRISTOPHER
The price of belief is too high. Count me out.
CHRISTINE
What about the child we killed? 
CHRISTOPHER
We didn’t kill a child. 
CHRISTINE
What did we do?
CHRISTOPHER
We didn’t kill a child. 
CHRISTINE
No. We made a choice. We weren’t ready.
CHRISTOPHER
We weren’t ready.
CHRISTINE
I was. 
CHRISTOPHER
Don’t, Chris. Just don’t.
CHRISTINE
Maybe they’re child saints. Little martyrs. To a bad world. Is all this just your funny way of saying you’ve gone cold on marrying again? 
CHRISTOPHER
I want you to come with me. 
CHRISTINE
You don’t care about children. Dead or alive.
CHRISTOPHER
Come with me.
CHRISTINE
I didn’t expect it to last, Chris. I’m not that much of an optimist. I was positive you’d be off as soon as I was better. Sooner if things got rough.
CHRISTOPHER
They were rough. I was there. 
CHRISTINE
I knew I had to beat it without you. I knew not to rely on you.
CHRISTOPHER
I was there! Hearing you say you couldn’t get through it without me.
CHRISTINE
Hospital pillow talk, mate. Your participation wasn’t crucial. Now I’m confused. Was the car accident bad luck or good luck?
CHRISTOPHER
It wasn’t an accident. I swung the wheel. I ran us off the road. 
CHRISTINE
I don’t believe you.
CHRISTOPHER
I swung the wheel while we were kissing. I ran us off the road. So we could go together.
CHRISTINE slaps him, hard. Pursues him.
CHRISTINE
How dare you! You bastard! I was going to make it! 
CHRISTOPHER
That’s not what I was told. 
CHRISTINE
Why do you only believe bad news? 
CHRISTOPHER
I wanted to be with you. 
CHRISTINE returns to PETER to cradle him. CHRISTOPHER hovers.
CHRISTINE
Goodbye, Christopher. Wait. Why don’t you take Peter with you? As you care so much. Be his role model. Pass on what you’ve learnt. Tell him a few jokes. 
CHRISTOPHER
He’s better here.
CHRISTINE
Damn right.
CHRISTOPHER
I still love you.
CHRISTINE
That’s so funny. I’m starting to hate you, Chris.
CHRISTOPHER
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
CHRISTINE
You need to lose your sense of humour. 
CHRISTOPHER
It’s my one surviving vice. 
CHRISTINE
It’s the one that’s killing you. 
She wakes PETER. He rings the great bell. A signal.
COLETTE positions CHRISTINE and PETER in front of the Paradise backdrop: Mother and Child. 
The Wheel illuminates. The choir within, including CHRISTINE, sing a devotional piece featuring a treble lead - Allegri’s “Miserere” (Psalm 51) for example - sung by PETER. His pure voice soars above the others. The sound approaches the transcendental, the cathedral acoustic perfection.
Lights give The Wheel the effect of slowly turning, as they sing.
CHRISTOPHER watches. Apart. 
He turns away and exits.


END OF PART 1


Part 2: HELL


Characters

The Lovers:

CHRISTINE         (1978-2005)
CHRISTOPHER     (1976-2005)

The Children:

PETER             (1996-2005)
JULIET             (1998-2005)
 
ALASTAIR       (1940-1969)       A Jingle Composer
COLETTE        (1890-1929)      An Interior Decorator
JERRY             (1980-2003)     A Psychic Medium
GRACE            (1917-1961)     An Urban Developer

 

Prologue

Darkness. Silence.
A church bell tolls. Slow and sombre. 
Followed by the slow-spreading sickly yellow light and sound of heavy rain, of a bleak, wintery morning. A wind howls.
A plastic milk crate sits in a desolate asphalted landscape. Scraps of paper and plastic scurry through. An empty beer bottle in a brown paper bag rolls back and forth beside the milk crate. We are in the AntiGarden.
JULIET enters with toy cart and Barbie. Looks round, wary. Scans the sky. For what? She sees nothing. She smiles. Sits to play. Stands Barbie in the cart and rolls it. Happy.
She has a thought. She quickly checks she is alone, then happily pulls the wheels off the cart. 
Someone approaches. JULIET quickly replaces the wheels on the cart and exits. Smiling.
CHRISTOPHER enters. He looks older. And as though he’s been dragged through a bush backwards. Filthy, clothes tattered, his features drawn. Nerves on edge.
CHRISTOPHER
I lied. From the moment of my birth 
My life was a disaster. But I hid
The jinx behind a mordant show of mirth

Even as the antique Valiant slid
Across the double lines, and skyward soared
I knew it would get worse. And it did.

“Just swing the wheel”. A voice not new, oft heard
A whispering on eucalypt-lined highways
Where driving’s easy, going on absurd

Oblivion. The unbeliever says
Belief defies believability
What cleanser wiped the stain of hope away?

We are alone: belief is vanity.
I found that I was wand’ring in a wood
So deep and dense I could not see the sky

A dark red circular beam of light captures him.

Blackened stunted trees around me stood
And moaned, their anguished branches flailed
And scratched at faces trapped within. I could

Not turn away. I howled and ran until
A mouth-like gate appeared. A figure clad
In pallid skin instructed me to trail 

Whoever it was, wherever I was, was bad 
He walks into the red tunnel as it fades into darkness.


Scene 1
A blues-based, uptempo, clapping-on-the-backbeat rhythm begins. 
The darkness disperses to reveal the interior of a Gothic cathedral. Incomplete, fractured, bell hanging in broken tower, cracked vaulting letting in sky, erratic scaffolding..
A glass chandelier hangs from the roof, a gold-framed mirror on a wall. A Norman Lindsay oil, in gilt frame, depicts lurid Dionysian revelries. The bell rope is a tasseled golden cord. A deep flokati rug lies mid-floor.
Stained glass, much broken, causes unsettling shards of ill-matched colour to pierce the interior. Green, sulphurous tones predominate. Human figures in the windows seem symbolically to represent Interior Decoration, New Age Mysticism, Urban Development, and Advertising.
The cathedral is undergoing demolition. Or is it restoration?
The clapping is joined by four voices in hot gospel harmony: COLETTE, JERRY, GRACE, ALASTAIR. Not the Heavenly personae, but their Hellish dualist opposites. In a devil-soul frenzy. GRACE bangs a tambourine. ALASTAIR jumps around, emotes, conducts, Deep South Reverend style.
COLETTE wears a diaphonous pastel Isadora dress; JERRY a neo-kaftan; GRACE an expensive business suit; ALASTAIR a loud Mambo-ish shirt of satanic motif, long shorts, lurid runners, gold rolex and bling. Or along those lines. Hellish.
They sing an expansively melodic, sensually rhythmic “Talkin’ White Anglo Saxon Black Humour’d Blues”. 
CHRISTOPHER wanders “outside”, spasmodically in view, as they sing. Progressively bleaker lyrics mirror his state of mind. 
ALL
My train is dark and bible black as night
The fair haired woman got a window seat
I’m looking out her window at the light

My train it left the station incomplete   
The fair haired woman took another line
The sun went down, train window black as peat

My train’s a restless soul, a worried mind
This tunnel hides a runaway express
My soul was restless till it saw the sign
The choir see CHRISTOPHER out a window. Singing falls into disarray. ALASTAIR angrily signals a halt.
ALASTAIR
Close to abysmal. We’ll get there.
We’ve got a blow-in.
They watch CHRISTOPHER wandering outside.
The stillness is broken by the dying call of a crow.
ALASTAIR produces a gun and fires. The crow falls. 
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Nevermore.
GRACE
(re CHRISTOPHER)
A suitably callow youth.
COLETTE
Car?
ALASTAIR
Rust bucket. Sloppy box. Leaky hydraulics. Bald tyres. Loose belts. No air bags. Suffer the little children to fly through the windscreen. Come on down!
JERRY
The young man seems suspiciously lethargic to me.
In hell, JERRY may have Porky Pig’s speech impediment, pronouncing ‘r’ and ‘l’ as ‘w’. Resulting in barely suppressed sniggers from his compatriots.
COLETTE
He’s in shock, Jerry. The poor darling will be under sedation. I know I was. I’m still dining out on the repeats. 
JERRY
I trusted my inner hero, boosted by ginseng and meditation, to guide me through, Colette, rather than become a diazepam zombie walking to the dull drum of the medico-pharmaceutical complex. Life is too long.
COLETTE
I feel for the poor lamb. He’s been through a terrible experience. 
GRACE
It’s going to get worse. 
COLETTE
There will be a woman involved. There always is. Aren’t we awful? Did you ever have a relationship with a woman, Alastair?
ALASTAIR
With a breeder?
GRACE
I beg your pardon, you embittered old poof.
ALASTAIR
I am not old, Gracie. Yes, I did. 
COLETTE
And? Who was she?
ALASTAIR
Pre or post operation? Brian. Née Briony. We crossed paths outside his school. His face shone like the young Charles Manson. Even when he was a she.
COLETTE
Did he/she know you were in love with him/her?
ALASTAIR
I wasn’t.
COLETTE
It’s far better that way.
ALASTAIR
We didn’t speak. Children should be obscene and not heard.
COLETTE
Alastair. You are awful.
ALASTAIR initiates a traditional spiritual - “Motherless Child” - with corrupted lyrics, of commercial purpose. 
ALL
(sing)
Sometimes I feel like a burger and fries. (3X)
A long way from home.
ALASTAIR
It has Lion d’Or at Cannes written all over it. A high water mark in Baroque capitalism. On the cusp of Rococo, Colette? The decorative turbulence? 
GRACE is distracted by a dark discolouration high up. 
GRACE
Is that damp?
JERRY
Fertile ground for the Death Cap mushroom. Amanita phalloides. Severe abdominal cramp, nausea, vomiting, violent diarrhoea, jaundice and cyanosis, followed by coma and death.
GRACE
Good. 
CHRISTOPHER enters.
CHRISTOPHER
Excuse me. I saw a light.
ALASTAIR
What are you staring at? We’re full. Piss off.
GRACE
Where did you think you’d end up? Shovelling coal next to Elvis?
COLETTE
There is no need for aggression.
Take no notice, dear. 
JERRY
Elvis is not dead. He’s in Cuba. He gives scuba lessons to tourists and drives the Playa Giron school bus. We’re in regular contact.
GRACE
Fat stinking communist loser. 
ALASTAIR
Can you sing? 
CHRISTOPHER
I’m a goldfish.
GRACE
Meet Jerry. He’s a flathead. What’s wrong with you? Blocked valve? Head stuck up your arse, is it? Only a wanker won’t have a sing with his mates. Or a piker.
COLETTE
Rise above the herd, dear.
GRACE
Or are you a welfare bludger? Did you rip a disability pension because you can’t sing?
ALASTAIR
Sing this.
An impossible note. Laughter at CHRISTOPHER’S discomfort.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
I’m sorry. I am sorry. Try this.
Another impossible note. And another. Mocking laughter. 
COLETTE
Don’t take any notice of them.
ALASTAIR
You can’t sing, can you? 
GRACE
Can’t sing? Can’t sing?
ALASTAIR
They’ve sent us one who can’t sing!
GRACE
Can’t or won’t? Are you an Ivory Tower Academic, are you? 
ALASTAIR
Can you chant? You must be able to chant.
(Gregorian chants)
“Cling wrap it, bar code it, flog it ad infinitum”. It’s a mantra. 
ALL
“Cling wrap it, bar code it, flog it ad infinitum”.
CHRISTOPHER, under pressure, fails the chant test. 
GRACE
Are you a Chardonnay Socialist, are you? Or a Cafe Latte Commie?
ALASTAIR
Can you clap? You put your hands together like this. Help him. 
They all clap, in time. CHRISTOPHER claps self-consciously.
GRACE
Went to university, did you? Drop out and go on the dole? Spend it on drugs? Roll up your sleeve. Show me your arm.
ALASTAIR
Now try it on the back beat.
They clap a gospel-funky back beat. CHRISTOPHER’S torment worsens as they caper around him, trying to loosen him up. 
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Yo! Get funky-butt-loose, baby! Shake your money maker! 
GRACE
Get on up, like a sex machine.
COLETTE
Feel it, brother! Can you feel it!? 
They sing “Talkin’ White Anglo Saxon Black Humour’d Blues”.. 
ALL
My train’s a restless soul, a worried mind
This tunnel hides a runaway express
My soul was restless till it saw the sign
..as the corrupted lyrics of a jingle for mattresses..

The only way my worried mind could rest
Was in a brand new bed from Sleeping King
I sold my soul to buy a matt-r-ess

Now Sleeping King does its inner spring thing
And my restless soul -
ALASTAIR
Stop! Stop stop stop! I shudder. It had Lion d’Or at Cannes written all over it.
GRACE shakes CHRISTOPHER, repeatedly.
GRACE
What. Are. You. Doing. Here. If. You. Can’t. Sing?
CHRISTOPHER
I’m a funky bluesman in my mind. A miserable pessimistic one.
ALASTAIR
There’s a 12 step program for ironists. 
GRACE
Humour is fear.
ALASTAIR
Can you cook?
He picks up the dead crow and tosses it to CHRISTOPHER.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Fuck it plirst. Pluck it first. 
A mobile phone tone. JERRY looks up, listens. Waits. In the quiet, the beat of circling leathery wings is heard. JERRY ducks and covers as the unseen wings swoop overhead.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
The leathery wing of madness.
ALASTAIR fires again. A bat falls. Just missing JERRY. Who staggers and collides with a wall or some other part of the material world. Then berates the offending object(s).
JERRY
Oh, that’s good. Do that again. I dare you. You stupid stupid thing.
(he regains composure)
Entropy. The second law of thermodynamics. Progress of all things towards disorder. A cosmos  out of control - 
The phone tone stops as JERRY makes psychic contact with an invisible presence on “The Other Side”.
JERRY (CONT’D)
Yes..this is Jerry..I’m getting.. Does anyone have a father named.. William? Brother, perhaps? Cousin?..Not William?..Guy?
COLETTE
My second husband. Guillaume. Guy.
JERRY
He’s here. 
COLETTE
What does he want?
JERRY
Money.
COLETTE
Oh, for pity’s sake. It’s been seventy five years!
JERRY
I’m getting..a ladder?..staircase? 
COLETTE
He fell. Down a marble staircase with Naiad balustrades. 
(Laughs)
Dodging a falling faux-crystal mail order chandelier. Only to impale himself on a Neo-classical spear ended curtain rod. Or were they Dryads? Please tell Guy he’s too late.
JERRY
He’s right here. Would you like to tell him yourself?
COLETTE
Guillaume. Guillaume. You sad impossible little man. You cannot take it with you. 
ALASTAIR
There’d be a lot more believers if you could. Boom tish. 
COLETTE
Oh, he’s impossible! Guillaume. Go. Please just go. Before I am forced to raise encore the unpleasant subject of your impotence.
JERRY
He’s gone. I’m getting someone else. Yes, this is Jerry..
COLETTE
I’m not talking to the others either.
JERRY
Dad?..Is that you? It’s me. Jerry. Your son! I’ve been trying to contact you for ages. Where have you been? You bastard.
(in angry tears)
It’s me. Jerry. Jerry! Jerry your son!..Oh. I’m sorry to have bothered you. Damn you! Damn you! 
(regains composure)
Jamming. Violent activity in the nuclei of distant radio galaxies. One more prelude to the heat death of the universe..
JERRY receives another contact.
JERRY (CONT’D)
Yes, this is Jerry..I’m getting waves..a beach..Is anyone acquainted with a young blond woman..in a bikini..?
The beach/bikini’d woman “contact” stirs CHRISTOPHER..
CHRISTOPHER
What colour bikini - ?
..but bats again swoop low overhead. JERRY ducks, wobbles, falls to the floor. Again he berates the material world.
JERRY
Oh, good one. Good one. Clap clap. Mongrels.
(he regains composure)
The Bernoulli effect. Large moving object creates pressure differential, you are sucked towards the object, Newton’s laws do the rest. Bang. You’re under the train. The malevolence of the material world.
He bumps heavily into the door frame. 
JERRY (CONT’D)
Bravo. Bravissimo. Arsehole. 
CHRISTOPHER
What colour bikini?
JERRY
Life is too long. We must find the spiritual dimension. Follow me!
He exits. No-one follows. CHRISTOPHER, dazed, considers it. But stays and scans his new surroundings.
GRACE
It’s all coming down. 
COLETTE
Grace is a philistine. I am  tastefully renovating in the latest classical style, for re-opening as a boutique hotel. 
GRACE
There’s a housing crisis. 
GRACE draws a curtain in her retreat to reveal a large computer-generated Architects Impression of a futuristic urban redevelopment: “Leviathan”. Massive, darkly beautiful, with sharp formal lines and surfaces. A maw-like Monumental Gate frames entry to a Processional Way carving a straight line through the hellscape to six gleaming-black high-rise cylinders: The Six Towers. The image may feature a decorative border identical to that framing COLETTE’S Paradise backdrop.
GRACE (CONT’D)
“Leviathan.”
COLETTE
Philistine! Madam is a Philistine! Jerry!
GRACE puts a soliciting arm around CHRISTOPHER. 
GRACE
You are here. In trendy Bachelor Tower Two. 
COLETTE gets in his other ear.
COLETTE
It is just a dream, cheri. The Games bid was unsuccessful.
GRACE
Finance will be found. You enter via The Great Jaws, here. Drive at maximum speed - no stopping! - down the six k six lane Processional Way.
COLETTE
A filthy heritage-listed ditch. Now and forever.
GRACE
Into the secure compound of The Six Towers. This is visionary architecture, this is. It can be yours. Now.
ALASTAIR
(advertising voice)
“Design: the new opiate of the people. Lie back and enjoy. You’ve earned it.”
GRACE
All six towers feature independent rotation, cladding of black non-stick one-way glass so the envy of outsiders reflects back at them, and alcove-free exteriors at ground level, to deny shelter to undesirables.
COLETTE
Surfaces surfaces surfaces. Jerry will not survive. People want softness, frills, curlicues. Dare to decorate! Jerry! Jerry!
GRACE
Best of all, it’s not for everyone. DINKS, poofs, professional singles only. No nasty little surprises outside the lift. Sound like home?
ALASTAIR
“The absence of noisome spawn is a primary point of difference. Procreation is eviction.”
GRACE
Oh, the planners have not neglected the child-bearing. Right now we are clearing the Wood Of Suicides for a low income estate. You won’t even know it’s there.
JERRY enters.
JERRY
Red. The bikini. Follow me, brothers and sisters.
JERRY exits. CHRISTOPHER is tempted to follow. 
ALASTAIR
It’s best to humour him. But do not on any account give him money.
GRACE
Why wait? Buy off the plan. You’re home now, Chris.
ALASTAIR
“Leviathan. For those who want to rise above it”.
COLETTE
A tasteless monstrosity. If necessary I shall hurl myself in front of the wrecking ball.
She stalks off to her high scaffolding retreat. 
GRACE
Shove your taste up your snobby French arse. Heritage wanker. 
ALASTAIR
I shudder. Our Colette’s taste unconsciously prefigures the post-modern each way bet. Ugly and a comment on ugliness. I shudder.
GRACE
Ordinary people want a decent home at a decent price. Don’t get me started. 
ALASTAIR
I foresaw the post-modern each way bet back in the early sixties. I had a dream. 
GRACE guides CHRISTOPHER to her desk. Where sit an art deco sculpture of a nymph; a huge bronze clenched fist; grafitto’d concrete block; monogrammed slippers; a necktie; false teeth.
GRACE
I had to work to get where I am. See this nymph? It’s deco. From my first demolition. You know what this is worth now? It’s deco. I’d sell but it has sentimental value. 
ALASTAIR
I had a dream. I saw the baby boomers’ immense potential for evil. 
GRACE and ALASTAIR are now talking at, and not listening to, CHRISTOPHER. Or each other. Like dinner party rant.
GRACE
I was the first Australian woman to operate a wrecking ball solo. I’m in the Guinness book.
ALASTAIR
I had a dream. I saw the cheesecloth of youthful idealism fall away as rags of middle class indulgence, to reveal my generation as the most pernicious race of odious little consumers since Adam was a boy. 
GRACE
I did the old Odeon in Brisbane. In the middle of the night.
ALASTAIR
I had a dream. I saw my future constituency march on moratoriums, and recognised a gigantic market opportunity. These people were sheep! 
(defiant clenched fist.)
1-2-3-4, I want my department store! Keep the dream alive.
GRACE
I don’t demolish any more. Not personally. I’m a builder. A creator. It gives me immense satisfaction.
ALASTAIR
I had a dream. I saw the Holy Trinity. Politics, journalism, advertising. Pope, AntiPope, UberPope. Who did I want to be? Gnarley one? No brainer, baby. Advertising, baby. Noxious, corrosive, defiling, in excelsis, baby. The market decides. Polly and journo follow. UberPope Al. Welcome to No Souls. I have one final dream. To complete my masterpiece. Hell’s jingle. 
GRACE
I’ve mellowed. I conserve now. 
See this fist?
(the huge bronze fist)
It’s Stalin’s. Amputated from a statue in Kiev. Turned up at a garage sale in Belarus. It will make a resonant lobby feature.
ALASTAIR
(advertisement)
“A comforting touch of history.”
GRACE
(the concrete block)
From The Wall. I got a hundred metres of the thing. Coffee table mounts for every apartment.
CHRISTOPHER
Berlin? The Berlin Wall?
GRACE
Nobody forks out for breezeblocks from a council dunny in Bendigo, you sad clown. Half of Russia and Eastern Europe is on the net. It’s booming. See these holes? Kalashnikov. Tell a story, don’t they? Tito’s official party necktie. Ceaucescu’s slippers. Pol Pot’s teeth. Made in France. When he was a student. I found them in that corner over there.
ALASTAIR
Mr Pot passed through on his way to the lapsed buddhist sector.
A beat. Before GRACE and ALASTAIR laugh.
GRACE
Sucked right in. You goose.
JERRY enters, excited, arms full of rolls of material.
COLETTE
My curtains! My curtains have arrived.
JERRY trips and falls.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
My curtains!
JERRY
Do your worst, you subatomic quantum bastards. It will not be enough.
COLETTE
My curtains have arrived.
JERRY
I stand on the verge of exposing you for what you are. “Rogue Physics” has the green light!  
COLETTE
Oh, Jerry, that is wonderful news. Jerry’s getting his own tv series.
COLETTE climbs the scaffolding with her curtains.
JERRY
In which I posit then prove, live via contact with The Other Dimension, that Evil is a substance. The material world is not value neutral as science would have it, but inherently malevolent. Rogue Physics. Manichaeism for the modern man. 
JERRY exits, stumbling.
COLETTE
Christopher? Would you give me a hand? My curtains have arrived. Voilà.
JERRY returns.
JERRY
(to CHRISTOPHER)
With orange hibiscus pattern. The bikini. Follow me.
He exits. CHRISTOPHER is again tempted to follow. But is dissuaded by GRACE.
GRACE
He makes it up. He’s a bullshitter.
COLETTE unfurls a long frilly diaphonous curtain from the scaffolding. Over GRACE.
COLETTE
Well? Do you love them? Christopher? Do you love them?
CHRISTOPHER
I love them.
COLETTE
Do you hear that, everybody? Christopher loves my curtains. Be a love and fetch those.
CHRISTOPHER collects a sheaf of ornate curtain rods. COLETTE slips curtains onto the rods. GRACE rails at the damp patch. 
GRACE
It’s getting bigger!
COLETTE
For heaven’s sake, will you stop catastrophising? I have ordered a lovely set of reproduction “Lady And The Unicorn” tapestries to cover it.
GRACE
It’s spreading, you pretentious cow.
COLETTE
Each tapestry is huge, ma petite. And there are five in the series. Six. Is it six? How many senses are there? 
The first curtain is successfully hung..
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Nothing can not be hidden, chéri. Nothing.
..causing GRACE and ALASTAIR to take refuge in retreats.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
So. Car?
CHRISTOPHER
On my way to be married.
COLETTE
Oh là. I was four times married. I’m still fond of them all. 
CHRISTOPHER
Any children?
COLETTE
A daughter. Louise would be sixteen or seventeen now. She’s with her father. Jean-Louis. Poor man. I was uncontrollable at seventeen. When I had Louise. Where is your fiancée?
CHRISTOPHER
I left her. At the altar.
COLETTE
It gets easier, chéri. You’ve done the right thing. 
JERRY enters. As a second curtain is hung.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Voilà. Jerry? Do you love my curtains?
JERRY
They look dangerous.
He climbs the tower.
JERRY (CONT’D)
Yes, this is Jerry..I’m getting..a wheel..?
Disturbed birds/bats cause him to slip and hang from scaffolding like Harold Lloyd on the clock. 
JERRY (CONT’D)
And your point is? Unnecessary. Completely unnecessary! 
CHRISTOPHER climbs to assist him.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I’m getting..a red bikini..with orange hibiscus..and a wheel..I’m hearing a car horn..stuck..a steering wheel? Christine, is it?
CHRISTOPHER almost drops JERRY.
JERRY (CONT’D)
Yes, still here..You’re very faint. Has anyone lost a Christine?
CHRISTOPHER
I knew a Christine. 
JERRY
With an orange and red bikini? She wants to talk. 
COLETTE
Jerry has a genetic condition. Incurable. Who wouldn’t be a little unbalanced? He jumped under a train. 
JERRY
She wants to ask you something.
Christine? You’re breaking up. 
JERRY climbs to the top of the belltower. 
JERRY (CONT’D)
The reception is better up here. Christine? I’ve lost her. She definitely wants to talk.
CHRISTOPHER
What about?
JERRY
She sounded a long way away. I  caught two distinct pejoratives. “Bullshitter” and “loveless wanker”. Her terms, not mine.
COLETTE
Heaven hath no fury, munchkin.
Christopher? Are you able to continue? 
JERRY
Hello? This is Jerry..
CHRISTOPHER
Christine..?
JERRY
Ron! It’s Ron. Good timing, Ron.
JERRY scans the surroundings, describing what he sees, loudly, like a tv doco frontman. To “RON”.
JERRY (CONT’D)
The sea of asphalt bubbles and folds in the heat. Cyclone fencing leans, and moans in the wind. Grey plastic bags and old newspaper scraps flap like pennants on the wire. A bridge over a filthy river burns fiercely in the distance. A parade of bulldozers chews through the Wood of Suicides. 
COLETTE
Jerry! Shut up!
JERRY
Bodies plummet from a giant ladder forking downward from the clouds, and splash into the slimey water of the ditch. A plague of Disgraced Financial Whizkids scurries across the landscape. A second plague, of National Sporting Disappointments, flagellates and wails for forgiveness. Swarms of former TV Celebrities hurl themselves off cliffs into boiling seas. A pod of Yuppies beaches itself on the banks of a river of pitch, gasping final words into mobile phones. A torrential downpour of Economists is predicted for later, the mark of the barcode on their foreheads. Hell’s bricklayers are hard at work on new estates - 
COLETTE
Jerry! Shut up!
COLETTE rings the great bell, once. 
JERRY
I have to go, Ron. 
Disturbed birds plague JERRY. He cannons into a wall.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I hate you. I hate you. They’re all devils. Newton. Darwin. Einstein. Hawking. Devils. All of them.
COLETTE, moving to another window, stops at the Lindsay oil.
COLETTE
Do you love my Lindsay?
CHRISTOPHER
I love your Lindsay.
COLETTE
Would it be better over there?
CHRISTOPHER
I like it here.
COLETTE
I think it might be better over here. Would you mind, pet?
CHRISTOPHER hangs the painting in the new location.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
(points at a figure)
C’est moi, ça. That’s me. With the breasts and the pitchfork. Poor Norman was hormonal but harmless. He’s a sound if unspectacular investment. I think it would be better over there. 
CHRISTOPHER re-hangs the painting. 
COLETTE (CONT’D)
I do love this frame. Don’t you? It’s almost too good. It’s not right, is it? Let’s try it over here.
CHRISTOPHER, becoming agitated, re-hangs the painting.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
No. No. Oh, what am I doing? It’s a nightmare! Look what you’ve made me do, you silly boy. Please put it back. Curtains, Colette, curtains.
She returns to the curtains. CHRISTOPHER peruses the Lindsay.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
You miss her, no? Your fiancée. 
CHRISTOPHER
Probably. Yes. I miss her.
COLETTE
Badly? 
CHRISTOPHER
I was in the wrong place.
COLETTE
It will pass. Everything passes if we wait long enough. Tell me to mind my own business. I’m a naturally curious person. What was the problem? Well? Tell Tante Colette. Why did you leave the lovely Christine at the altar?
CHRISTOPHER
I couldn’t go through with it. 
COLETTE
All men are afraid, dear. It’s natural. No need to feel ashamed. 
CHRISTOPHER
We want different things. And I’m a selfish bastard.
COLETTE
You’re not selfish at all. You’re terrified. You’re terrified of compromise. And you’re terrified of company. I’m the same. I’m not clever enough to be humourous, like you, but I have a feel for fabrics. The truth is ugly. Fine fabric is the best protection I know. Where is Christine now? Is she a “good” person? 
CHRISTOPHER
She’s a good person.
COLETTE
Ah. Dommage. We can’t all be good.
CHRISTOPHER
Two children drowned. 
COLETTE
Yours?
CHRISTOPHER
A boy and girl. A little girl.
COLETTE
That’s not right, is it? 
CHRISTOPHER
They’re innocent. 
COLETTE
It’s not right.
CHRISTOPHER
It’s a shitty unfunny joke. The little girl made it back. NDE, I suppose. Is that good? Her brother’s gone. Trying to save her. 
COLETTE
You feel very strongly, don’t you?
You feel as if they were your own. It may be worse for the childless. They never get closure. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ve landed in the right nest now, my sweet. I’m surprised your Christine stayed.
She kisses his cheek.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
I refused to compromise in any of my marriages subsequent to Jean-Louis. Not after the Louise experience. Looking at me now, you wouldn’t believe I’d given birth, would you? Well? Tell me I look half my age.
CHRISTOPHER
You look terrific.
COLETTE
Thankyou, darling. 
CHRISTOPHER
I feel sick. If you really want to know.
COLETTE
Would you like something to dull the pain?
She produces a pill bottle. Pours CHRISTOPHER a big handful. 
COLETTE (CONT’D)
More for later? Oh, keep the bottle. But don’t do anything stupid. Like not take enough! Oh, I have a sense of humour after all! 
CHRISTOPHER
I’ve thought about taking enough.
COLETTE
We’ve all been to the railway platform. It’s worse when you can’t do it, isn’t it? I do know how you feel, petal. I do know. You can feel a lump, like a ball bearing, right here, where your soul should be, can’t you? It’s malignant. But not terminal. Embrace it, dear heart, decorate it, with a passion, like moi. Everything has a price. Now, cushions. How do you feel about white leather pouffes?
GRACE finds the wooden toy cart hidden among her relics.
CHRISTOPHER recognises the cart. He pretends otherwise.
GRACE
Who put this here? 
CHRISTOPHER
What is it?
ALASTAIR 
It looks to me like a toy. Very much like a toy.
GRACE
It is a toy.
ALASTAIR
Did you bring someone with you?
CHRISTOPHER
No. 
GRACE
(to COLETTE)
You had a kid.
COLETTE
I’ve never seen it before in my life. It’s terribly crude.
GRACE holds out the cart, accusingly, to JERRY.
JERRY
I can’t have children? The line terminates here, remember?
GRACE
Do you have children?
CHRISTOPHER
No.
GRACE
Are you sure?
ALASTAIR
Did you want to?
CHRISTOPHER
No.
GRACE
Do you now?
ALASTAIR
Are you now or have you ever been a father?
CHRISTOPHER
I’m not in any hurry.
GRACE
What’s wrong with you? Are you shooting blanks? Are you gay?
ALASTAIR
My Dark Prince, alas, not my queen.
COLETTE
Rise above them, pet.
CHRISTOPHER
May I see? 
GRACE surrenders the cart, with suspicion.
COLETTE
Get rid of it before someone trips on it.
The cathedral darkens. The temperature drops. Lightning hits the tower, followed by a monstrous crack of thunder. Then intermittent heavy thuds on the roof. The cathedral dwellers move away from a fissure in the roof overhead. 
GRACE
Here we go.
ALASTAIR
Send her down, Huey! Scorn must be tested. Come on, send her down!
Bring it on, baby. 
A large toad falls through the fissure.
GRACE
Is this the best you can do? One toad? Call this a plague? 
ALASTAIR
Can’t you wipe out the first born? 
GRACE
Or the second and the third?
ALASTAIR
Who turned the first blind eye? Who taught Pilate to wash his hands? 
GRACE
Who was Cain’s wife?
COLETTE
Will someone please get that disgusting thing off my carpet?
JERRY
Ron. We’ve got a toad. A big one.
Ron believes souls in purgatory  reappear as toads to haunt those who wronged them. 
ALASTAIR
Christine?
CHRISTOPHER
(bridling)
What did you say? 
GRACE
Do her wrong, did you? She’s baaack! Warts and all. Croak.
JERRY
She wants to ask you a question.
ALASTAIR
Good-looking, was she? Croak.
CHRISTOPHER walks away from his tormentors.
JERRY
I can contact her now, if you like. 
COLETTE
Jerry is a charlatan. This toad does bear a certain resemblance to my René. René died of gluttony. Purgatory’s too good for him.
GRACE
It reminds me of someone I had the pleasure of sacking. Stupid cow panicked when she turned forty, and went and got herself pregnant. You know what I told her? I told her, just because the alarm goes off doesn’t mean you have to get up. 
She looks up. The roof evidences intermittent thuds. 
GRACE (CONT’D)
Losers! I did sack a lot of people.
ALASTAIR
Put her out of her misery.
He goes to kick/squash the toad. CHRISTOPHER stops him.
CHRISTOPHER
It’s alive.
GRACE
Are you a greenie, are you? Or some kind of sicko toad lover? 
ALASTAIR
Scorn must be tested, sunshine. Ixnay on the toad-ay. You don’t really think it’s her?
JERRY
Ron? Are you still there?
COLETTE
Will someone please get it off my carpet! 
JERRY
Toads. Flies. Scorpions. Locusts. Snakes. Spiders. Rats. Leeches.  What is the universe but a multitude of plagues?
CHRISTOPHER approaches the toad. Cart in hand.
GRACE
You’ll get warts. Or cancer. Or AIDS. Or children.
CHRISTOPHER
Look on the bright side.
JERRY
Evil is a substance. We must circumvent the material world, Ron.
(to CHRISTOPHER)
Ron Bosch. I call him Ron. I can’t pronounce Hieronymous. Ron’s an artist. On The Other Side.
ALASTAIR
He’s short of material. 
COLETTE
Please, will someone get that thing out of my sight!
CHRISTOPHER places the toad in the toy cart. 
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Oh la! A tumbril! Do you see? It’s a delightful little executioner’s cart. Off with his slimey head.
ALASTAIR 
Robespierre signed the Visitors Book in 1792. Can you cook?
CHRISTOPHER
I saw a puddle out front. 
COLETTE
Thankyou, Christopher darling. Wash your hands afterwards.
ALASTAIR
Did I really hear you say “Look on the bright side?”
As CHRISTOPHER exits with cart and toad.. 
GRACE
Loser. Victim. Dreamer. Tyrekicker. Excusemonger. Designer sponge. Chattering class hero.


Scene 2
CHRISTOPHER enters the AntiGarden. He sits on the milkcrate. Places cart and toad prominently on the ground in front of him. Scans his surroundings.
CHRISTOPHER
I know you’re there.
He waits.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
Maybe you aren’t.
(to toad)
I guess it’s just you and me, my clammy friend.
He continues to look around, circumspectly. Watching for?
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
(to toad)
And you’re disgusting. 
He removes toad from cart. Sits toad to one side. Rolls the cart into the open, with intent. Bait. The bait is not taken.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
(to toad)
I broke a gentle heart. What did you do?
He rubs the left upper area of his chest, as if sore.
JERRY passes slowly, describing the view to RON.
JERRY
The suburbs of hell are in ferment. A man, clothes alight, flees a blazing four wheel drive. Blackened family vehicles and people movers, stripped and smouldering, dot the estates. The swimming pools are choked with floating dead. Tall poles surmounted by wagon wheels display the bodies of executed criminals. 
JERRY exits.
CHRISTOPHER
(to toad)
You’re dead, aren’t you?
A small figure flits momentarily through the shadows - dirty,  ragged clothes, wild hair - and disappears in the blink of an eye. Did we even see it? Did CHRISTOPHER?
He replaces the toad in the cart. Playfully rolls it along.
The figure reappears in another location, very briefly, to again disappear. Yes, we did see it.
CHRISTOPHER plays with the cart.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
Vroom. Vroom. Go, toad.
The figure - or part thereof - appears again. A little closer. Watching. Wary. It hides again.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I know you’re there. I won’t hurt you.
No response.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
You can have the cart back.
He removes the toad. Holds out the cart.
The figure shows itself. Tentative, skittish. It is JULIET. Now a scared feral cherub. Clutching Barbie.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I just borrowed it.
JULIET does not approach. Her eyes are fixed on the cart.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
Don’t you remember me?
JULIET nods. Eyes on the cart.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I thought you’d gone home.
JULIET runs, snatches the cart, and disappears.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I won’t hurt you. I promise. 
JULIET reappears, edging in, slowly.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
What are you doing here?
JULIET bursts into tears. CHRISTOPHER tries to approach. JULIET backs away. He stops.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I won’t hurt you. I’m your friend.
She allows him to hold her as she sobs heavily.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
What are you doing here, sweetheart?
JULIET
I killed Peter.
CHRISTOPHER
No. No, you didn’t. 
JULIET
I did! I killed Peter!
CHRISTOPHER
It wasn’t your fault, Juliet. It was an accident.
JULIET
(in tears)
It was an accident. I couldn’t help it.
CHRISTOPHER
I know. I know. There’s been a mistake. You shouldn’t be here. 
JULIET
Will you tell on me?
CHRISTOPHER
Of course I won’t tell on you. We’ll sort it all out. I promise.
JULIET
Can I stay with you?
CHRISTOPHER
Won’t you miss your brother? I think you will. 
JULIET
I want to stay here with you.
CHRISTOPHER
And won’t Peter miss you? I think he’ll be missing you terribly. We’ve got to get you two back together, haven’t we?
JERRY rings the great bell, twice. 
JULIET scurries off.
As ALASTAIR enters. Looks around. Did he see JULIET?
ALASTAIR
All alone?
CHRISTOPHER
All alone.
ALASTAIR
(re toad)
Dead, is it? Can’t make up your mind? Burial versus cremation? Romance versus economy? I thought I heard a little voice, before.
CHRISTOPHER
A bird twittering.
ALASTAIR
A bird twittering. 
He sits beside CHRISTOPHER, arm around his shoulder.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
A bird twittering. A pretty little bird? What sort of little bird? I’d like to meet this little bird. I’m a little bird fancier.
CHRISTOPHER
It’s flown.
ALASTAIR
Perhaps you could persuade it to fly back?
(tempting)
I can get you women.
Pause.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
You don’t have to love them back. Petite Asian Honey. Busty Blonde Brandy. Dusky South American Tango. Submissive Yoko. Sabrina, Brigitte, Kelli with an “i”. A smorgasborg Of love. A smorgasborgasm. With no postprandial heartburn. I’ll give you time to think, will I?
ALASTAIR exits. CHRISTOPHER waits, looks round, seeks JULIET.
CHRISTOPHER
Juliet? It’s ok. I’ll look after you -  
ALASTAIR enters. Sits with CHRISTOPHER again.
ALASTAIR
(tempting)
I can get you a car. You’ll feel untouchable behind the wheel of the new Mitsubishi Self Esteem. Or why not bathe in respect at the lights while safe inside the turbocharged Nissan Dignity? Perhaps you desire something more uplifting. I can get you aboard a new Ford Faith. Holden Hope? Chrysler Charity? 
CHRISTOPHER
I don’t think so.
ALASTAIR
I know you. I know what you want. You want the best. The top of the line. For the man who has everything. A reward for a lifetime of struggle. The Cadillac Compassion. Priceless. Are you now or have you ever been compassionate?
CHRISTOPHER
No.
ALASTAIR
Some time to think about it?
He exits. 
CHRISTOPHER
Juliet? 
JULIET appears. Wary. Darts away as ALASTAIR enters. 
ALASTAIR
I can get you drugs. I can get you anything you want. Time to think?
CHRISTOPHER
I’ve thought.
ALASTAIR
Baby baby baby. You don’t do girls. You don’t do cars. You don’t drink. You don’t take drugs. You can’t sustain a relationship. You don’t want children. What do you want? Oh the misery of insight! Show me your wrists, baby!
He laughs. Seizes CHRISTOPHER’S wrists. Examines them.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
You don’t do that either. But do I hear the golden-haired siren-call of codeine clinking in your pocket?
He dives into CHRISTOPHER’S pocket. Finds the pills.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Past their use-by date? Tsk.
CHRISTOPHER
They’re not mine.
ALASTAIR shakes the bottle like maraccas and jives.
ALASTAIR
The thought is always there, isn’t it? It’s the thought that counts.
Pace the railway platforms of your mind. Luxuriate in the aesthetics of evil. Jump, you charlatan! Jump, faker, jump! What’s stopping you? Jump!
CHRISTOPHER sees JULIET, hiding, watching. Does ALASTAIR?
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
I can get you rare stamps. Ah. I  know what you want. You want to be left alone.
CHRISTOPHER
You’re still here.
ALASTAIR
The meek will inherit the earth when the economists are all dead. Market research confirms it.
He tucks the pills back in CHRISTOPHER’S pocket.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
We’re about to begin. Bring your little bird. I have just the cage.
ALASTAIR whispers in CHRISTOPHER’S ear. Watched by JULIET.
CHRISTOPHER
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
 ALASTAIR exits.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
(winks)
I’m looking after you, Juliet, ok?
JULIET does not return his smile. She runs away.
The music of Hymn 27, “Abide With Me”, instrumental and/or vocal humming, rises.

Scene 3
Inside the cathedral.
Hell’s choir hums “Abide With Me” in front of “Leviathan”.
CHRISTOPHER enters. With new resolve, he joins the choir. Who glower suspiciously. CHRISTOPHER gives the appearance of humming. But is he? And in tune? 
ALASTAIR approaches. Listens. Gestures the choir be silent,  CHRISTOPHER to continue humming, solo. CHRISTOPHER falters. He fails humming.
ALASTAIR directs him to the dead crow. CHRISTOPHER sits, apart, plucking the bird as the choir sings.
They sing Hell’s Jingle: “Abide With Me”, with corrupted lyrics promoting GRACE’S “Leviathan”. ALASTAIR prompts the lyrics, at first, or they may be otherwise displayed.
ALL
Reside in me, my doors lie open wide
Sweet siren whisper, Lord in me reside
I am tomorrow, I am luxury
Lifestyle of lifestyles, oh reside in me

The damp patch seems to spread, slowly, before our eyes. CHRISTOPHER notices. He stares as the damp shape begins to resemble..the head of a woman? CHRISTINE?
ALL (CONT’D)
Enter me now, let this world be thine
Darkness is banished by divine design
I am the future, I am close at hand
Meet you in the lobby of Leviathan
Meet you in the lobby of Leviathan..
A reverential silence greets the end of the song.
ALASTAIR
I have completed my masterpiece. 
GRACE
Tsk tsk. Sin of pride. I love it, Al. I love it.
ALASTAIR
Sing it backwards, you hear “God is dead”. Magnificent.
One by one they notice CHRISTOPHER’S distraction, peer at the damp patch, then, in puzzlement, back at CHRISTOPHER.
COLETTE
He misses his Christine. You see her everywhere, don’t you? Yes.
JERRY
I can’t see her. I can see a damp patch.
ALASTAIR
What is this thing with signs?
GRACE
The will to believe is getting relentless.
Three echoes of CHRISTOPHER’S own words.
COLETTE
Don’t listen to them. If you see your Christine there, then she’s there, isn’t she?
GRACE
I can see the rescinding of a heritage order.
COLETTE
I see a magnificent mediaeval romance in burgundy and gold.
ALASTAIR
I see the market. Mushrooms? Boom tish.
JERRY
I see fungus assuming the gestalt of a Rorschachian nightmare, the asymetry of the alienated psyche.
Staring makes JERRY dizzy, stumble, bump a wall, and fall.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I’m starting to get annoyed. You’re starting to annoy me.
(regains composure)
Vertigo. Handmaiden of the devil Newton.
COLETTE
(to CHRISTOPHER)
It will pass, petal.
ALASTAIR
I can see her! I can see her! And there’s the tooth fairy. 
GRACE
And there’s the Boogie Man and Fatty Boombah. 
CHRISTOPHER walks away from his tormentors.
COLETTE
Come, cheri. We still haven’t found the best place for Norman. You’ll forget her sooner than you think. Trust Tante Colette. She knows.
JERRY
Do you want me to contact her?
COLETTE
Tais-toi, Jerry! Don’t listen. He’s  a conman. 
JERRY
She wants to talk. 
GRACE
He makes it all up.
JERRY
Christopher? Do you want to talk to her?
COLETTE covertly gestures that JERRY is mad.
CHRISTOPHER
I want to talk to her.
GRACE
Dreamer.
JERRY
Yes, this is Jerry..I’m getting.. fair hair? Long straight fair hair..five foot six..
GRACE
Sucker.
JERRY
Grey eyes..
COLETTE
You’ll only make yourself sick.
JERRY
A beautiful smile..a sweet floral fragrance..
CHRISTOPHER
LouLou.
ALASTAIR
You want to believe, don’t you? It’s nagging at you. 
JERRY
Salty skin. Salty, but soft.
CHRISTOPHER
She was rigorous with her blockout. And her hat. And her long sleeves.
ALASTAIR
It’s only envy, that nagging. It’s a sad fact that unbelievers envy believers. I shudder.
JERRY
“Dark Forever”?
CHRISTOPHER
Her favourite lipstick. A black plum colour. The taste of lanolin.
ALASTAIR
We envy them because the fools think they’re not alone.
JERRY
Bluebirds.
GRACE
It’s just a mirage, mate. 
JERRY
I’m wrong. Only one bluebird.
CHRISTOPHER
Where?
JERRY
Left ear. 
ALASTAIR
It’s cowardice, mate. Don’t give in to it.
CHRISTOPHER
The other one’s in the sand at Wanda. 
GRACE
Don’t be a gutless wonder. 
CHRISTOPHER
We dug up the whole beach looking.
JERRY
I’m getting..a ladder..
GRACE
She’s run off with a fireman.
JERRY
A very long ladder..
CHRISTINE appears in the doorway. 
CHRISTINE
May I come in? 
ALASTAIR
Ooh. The jilted bride? Is it?
GRACE
(to CHRISTOPHER)
Back door. I think she’s got a knife.
COLETTE
Let’s leave our love birds alone, shall we? They must have lots to catch up on.
GRACE
The ring’s still in the glovebox.
Another echo. Darkly amused, ALASTAIR exits, GRACE and COLETTE fade away to their retreats, JERRY climbs the tower.
CHRISTOPHER kisses CHRISTINE’s cheek. Awkwardly. She doesn’t respond. She looks around, unimpressed. Sees the damp patch. 
CHRISTOPHER
It reminded me of you.
CHRISTINE can’t see it.
CHRISTINE
I won’t stay long.
CHRISTOPHER
It’s good to see you.
CHRISTINE
Did you really mean to stack the car? 
CHRISTOPHER
Yes.
CHRISTINE
Deliberately.
CHRISTOPHER
Yes.
She slaps his face, hard.
CHRISTINE
I don’t believe you.
CHRISTOPHER
Believe what you like.
CHRISTINE
Life’s not worth living without her so I’ll run us into a tree? You wish. 
CHRISTOPHER
You underestimate the profound negativity under my outward show of cock-eyed optimism. I didn’t want to lose you. 
CHRISTINE
It’s conceit, Chris. You’re cross-eyed with yourself. You’d like to have run us off the road. Like you’d like to have married me. And you’d like to give a shit. It’s all wishful afterthought. Afterwards you wish you’d had the guts. The penny’s dropped, mate. You’d like to have believed I’d live. But you never did.
CHRISTOPHER
How can you say that? There was six weeks, even a couple of months, for a miracle to occur. 
CHRISTINE
You had me convinced for a while. 
CHRISTOPHER
OK. Fair cop, Guv. I didn’t believe you’d live. So I stacked the car. 
CHRISTINE
No. You didn’t believe I’d live so you said “yes”.
CHRISTOPHER
Lost me.
CHRISTINE
“Yes, I’ll marry you”? You were  making a three month commitment. Max. To do the right thing. Hey, it would make me feel good before I kicked off. Then you’re free. It was an accident. 
CHRISTOPHER
Believe what you like.
JERRY
(to RON)
An expressway flyover stops in mid-air. Half-completed concrete cores rise from drowned excavations in which marine squatters have established mini-Venices. Big Pineapple and Big Beercan kiosks crumble in disrepair, crawling with naked vegan derelicts and the rats they refuse to eat. A high rise apartment block, clad in corrugated iron, features 1950s retro timber sash windows, which are triple glazed and do not open. 
CHRISTOPHER
Shut up, Jerry!
JERRY
Loose iron bangs and peels in the high wind. Razor-edged sheets scythe through the air. A chopper resembling a giant dragonfly delivers groceries to the tower rooftop. Insect-like gunships escort black eighteen-wheel articulated limousines from compound to compound. 
JULIET’S terrified scream - similar to that in the Prologue to Part 1 - is heard outside.
JERRY (CONT’D)
There are sporadic explosions as unaccompanied baggage is destroyed on sight. In a faraway field, a pair of lovers ride atop a hay-filled cart. 
ALASTAIR enters, leading struggling JULIET who clutches the cart and Barbie.
ALASTAIR
I found a cherub. Anyone lost a cherub?
CHRISTOPHER
You’re hurting her, Alastair. 
ALASTAIR
Is this your cherub, is it? Is this your daddy, cherub?
CHRISTOPHER
You’re hurting her. Let her go.
JULIET
(to CHRISTOPHER)
You told on me! You told on me!
CHRISTOPHER
No -
ALASTAIR
Did you tell on her?
CHRISTINE
Is that Peter’s sister?
ALASTAIR
Is there another one? 
CHRISTOPHER
Let her go. 
ALASTAIR
She is yours, isn’t she?
CHRISTOPHER
No. We’ve met. I know her. There’s been a cock-up. She’s not supposed to be here. 
JULIET kicks ALASTAIR, wriggles free, and runs, dropping the toy cart. GRACE corrals her in a corner.
GRACE
You’re not staying, you little queue jumper. Where are your parents hiding?
CHRISTOPHER
I’ll look after her. 
JULIET
(howling tears)
No! I hate you! You told a lie! 
COLETTE retrieves the toy cart. JULIET snatches it. 
COLETTE
Is this yours? Please don’t leave your toys on my carpet in future.
ALASTAIR
She’s not staying. Pretty as she is. She’ll go to Girls’ Town. 
GRACE
Girl’s Town is a brand new town for girls with family problems.
CHRISTOPHER
She doesn’t have family problems. She should be with her brother.
JERRY
(to RON)
Every Girls Town inmate is provided with a pram made by the girls themselves in the Girls Town workshop, to push around the exercise yard, an abandoned suburban railway platform. Naked anorexics flagellate as they stream into a warehouse conversion dormitory, while bulemics stream into another -  
GRACE
Shut up, Jerry. It’s a lovely place. You’ll make lots of friends.
COLETTE
You’ll have loads of fun. They have toys there too.
JULIET
I want to stay here. Please? 
(ultra sweet)
I’ll be good. I promise I’ll be a good girl. 
ALASTAIR
We’ll go there right away.
CHRISTOPHER grabs ALASTAIR’S arm.
CHRISTOPHER
She’s not going. 
ALASTAIR
The hand? 
CHRISTOPHER
She’s not going.
He stands protectively between JULIET and ALASTAIR. 
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
She won’t be any trouble. She’ll be with me. 
CHRISTINE
And your maximum commitment is?
CHRISTOPHER
As long as it takes. 
CHRISTINE
Who is this for, Chris? This show. Go on. Tell her you love her.
ALASTAIR
The girl is going to Girls Town because Girls Town is where she wants to be - 
JULIET
I don’t! Please don’t make me! You can’t make me!
They struggle. CHRISTOPHER snatches JULIET away, bodily. He tries to talk to her. She is near hysterical.
CHRISTOPHER
Juliet. Listen - 
JULIET
No. I don’t like you!
CHRISTINE
Tell her. Say the word.
CHRISTOPHER
Juliet, I promise I didn’t tell -
JULIET
You told a lie! 
She throws herself on the floor, howling, thrashing about. 
JULIET (CONT’D)
I’m a good girl! I’m not going to Girls Town! You can’t make me! 
I’m not going! I’m not! Not! Not! 
CHRISTOPHER
Juliet -
JULIET
Get away! Get away!
She screams, hits, kicks CHRISTOPHER. Uncontrollable. 
CHRISTOPHER retreats, shaken by the vehemence of rejection.
As JULIET exhausts herself, CHRISTINE approaches and with soothing noises physically wrestles JULIET into her arms, gripping her tightly, waiting for calm. CHRISTOPHER watches.
GRACE rings the great bell, three times. 
She repairs to her retreat, as have the others, to once more become illuminated parts of the stonework.
CHRISTINE
(to CHRISTOPHER)
It’s not that easy.
CHRISTOPHER fetches the milkcrate. Locates a “retreat” and sits. He too becomes an illuminated part of the stonework.
JERRY
She feels buffeted by the four fundamental particle interactions. Experiencing helpless incomprehension. Further complicated by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Everything breaks. Nothing works. The world is out to get her.
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I remember how I felt when they told me my father had gone. Something had been stolen from me. I remember slamming my bedroom door and throwing myself on the floor and dislocating my collarbone.
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
For the moment I feel comparatively in control. Even calm. For the moment. The electrochemical tangle does not spark and hiss. The static has subsided. Thought flows freely. It won’t last.
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I feel a clear, curious..empathy. I want to tell her it only gets worse but I think, against my better judgement, maybe it will be different for her. I want to say get used to it, kid. I want to walk away, saying there’s nothing I can do. But..something..is..pulling..It won’t last.
Pause.
JERRY (CONT’D)
I experience brief, infrequent moments of lightness of heart. During which it occurs to me I may be a hypochondriac of physical phenomena. And that the world is not out to get me. These moments do not last. They are hallucinations. Hypochondria is an electrochemical phenomenon. And it, too, is out to get me. I won’t fall for it. Nor for the illusion of empathy. A child is matter. Matter is evil. I will find the other dimension and one day the people will follow me and we will live forever. 
Light rises on GRACE, at her desk, perusing plans.
GRACE
She reminds me of myself. In the beginning. Waiting for the good world to begin. I came dux. I thought that was the beginning. But they wouldn’t let me do architecture. I went to secretarial school. I was dux of that too. I went to work in an architect’s office. Was that the new beginning? He sacked me after I refused to do it without a frenchie at the Christmas party. I got a job on a building site during the war. I loved it. What happened after the war? The men returned and told me to get back in the kitchen. I wanted to build kitchens. And the buildings they were in. Then they let the wogs in for the post-war boom and they took all the jobs anyway.
Pause.
GRACE (CONT’D)
So I did it without a frenchie with the Secretary of the Builder’s Labourer’s Federation and got my wrecking ball ticket. Then I blew it and married him. He changed overnight. Surprise. He wanted to do it without a frenchie every night, after he’d bolted down my dinner, and breed an heir to his football inadequacy. Luckily he was shooting blanks. Which was all my fault. He got greyhounds instead. I built my first block of units. 
Pause.
GRACE (CONT’D)
In the 70s I considered becoming a lesbian separatist. I wore the overalls. I decided I liked men as long as they didn’t get in my way.
I’m not a pessimist. I’m a realist. 
It’s every woman for herself. I was too busy for kids. I mean, get over it. Biology is bullshit.
Pause.
GRACE (CONT’D)
So’s history. Mum and dad were fibros. I’m a neo Tuscan villa with an ocean view and three garages. Why stop at survival? The mansion and the Merc aren’t survival. They’re the rewards of survival. But if I had to give them up, I could. I haven’t forgotten. I could begin again. If you’re poor, it’s your fault. Girls Town will toughen her up.
She looks to COLETTE. Who smokes a coloured Sobranie in a gold-and-jet cigarette holder.
COLETTE
Moi? Merde alors. I want to hide. Mon dieu. I want to hide when I see the plight of this poor creature. I feel so superficial. So terribly shallow. So facile. So vapid. I want to hide. No curtain is beautiful enough to conceal the shame I feel. No amount of gold, no ornament, can make my feeling pretty. The truth is, I am a silly woman. Sans doute. 
She looks at herself in the mirror.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
You silly, silly woman. I do try. I do try to think about other people. I try to think about the world. The cruelty overwhelms me. The pain. Everywhere. The horror is all around. I simply cannot cope. It sounds awful but I am too sensitive. I must rise above the herd. Above the shit. I have no choice. I must fill my life with inconsequence or I will curl up and die.
She is in tears.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
I am not as young as I look. And I have learned one or two things - bitter things - in my time. I have learned one bitter truth in particular: I have a brain the same size as that of a small bird. I admit it. I accept it. What choice do I have? I accept what I am.
Pause.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Many of my forebears went to the guillotine. In a cart like that. I hanged myself. I could not cope. I was born out of time. We will not rise again. We are antiques. We  become rarer. But less valuable. Alas.
Pause.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Jean-Louis. Guy. Yves. Robert. Maurice. My brave and handsome protectors all. I decorated my heart with each of you. Alas, everything wears away so quickly. One seeks anew, until one becomes tired. I know you forgive me. I am sure you have forgotten me. Everything wears away so quickly. C’est la vie.
Light falls on ALASTAIR.
ALASTAIR
I felt pity. 
He scratches his head.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Not your patronising pity. Not your you-poor-dumb-shitty-pathetic-I-spit-on-you-you-loser pity. The real deal. The Salvation Army thing. Compassion. I felt it. It’s a worry. Where the fuck did that come from?, thought I. Fuck me. I thought it was banned. Not that I believe in censorship.
Pause.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
I used compassion to great effect in a commercial for bleach. Remember the hospice where the terminals are pegging out on yellowing sheets? I used it to flog orthopaedic mattresses. Braking systems. Petfood. Animals and compassion. Winner. OK, compassion hasn’t got a shitshow up against vanity or envy, the Big Two, but in the right context, compassion finds a market. 
Pause.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
The Big Two. The only two genuine Deadly Sins: Vanity - Pride in some markets - and Envy. Superbia and Invidia. Market research confirms it. It’s a perfect, complete, closed system. Yin yang. Warp weft. Vanity envy. One lets you down, the other kicks in. And vice versa. All the rest - greed, sloth - are just useful derivatives. If not accidents. Envy and vanity have been given a bad name. What sort of a world would we have without them? No envy, no vanity? No competition. No competition, too many winners. The system will collapse.
Pause.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
So anyway, I’d used compassion but I’d never actually felt it until now. Didn’t want to. Still don’t. I don’t understand it. I don’t want to. I’m not a bleeding heart. 
Pause.
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
We can’t make exceptions. We’ll get a flood of applicants wanting to get in. The system will collapse. I felt pity and I rose above it. 
Light rises on CHRISTOPHER. He stands on the milk crate.
CHRISTINE embraces the quiet JULIET, strokes her forehead.
CHRISTOPHER
Is the thing that blocks belief, the truth?
Or just a wilful maggot in the skull
Gnawing any thought that tries to smooth

The pathway to surrender? Is the lull
Tween life and death the browning of the leaf
Or did some bitter nurse in primary school

Inoculate the soul against belief?
What cynic serum makes one faith immune?
Exempt from yielding to belief’s relief?

Or calls the alpha ancestor the tune?
His melody, distrustful genes, reprised
The family tree, a chromosomal ruin?

Is the thing that can’t believe, disease?
A pox on hope, a cancer of the soul
Can I get soul chemo? Or the keys

To fit the umpteen smoking god-shaped holes
Which perforate this head of cheese and see
See what? A purpose? Meaning? Cosmic goal?

That Baba’s right? The Holy Cow is me?
Despite the sunset, rain, the flowers growing
The cold embrace of holy truth says we  

Are unimportant. Is this truth worth knowing?
The leathery wing of madness flaps, old son 
Solo sailing leads to solo rowing

The grave will be like bed, the long day done. 
And yet..and yet..and yet again..the call
The will to love..still rises with the sun

On painful days. And pleasant. And I fall
As innocence redeems a hopeless world
Only to die. And was it there at all?

Like love? And then..and then..and then some girl..
He climbs down, sits by CHRISTINE, and strokes her forehead.
CHRISTINE
It’s going to be all right. It’s going to be all right. It’s going to be fine, sweetheart. You’ll see Peter again. You’ll see them all again. Soon. 
JULIET does not respond.
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
I was very sad once, too. I thought I was never going to see someone again, too. Do you know what I did, Juliet? I made a picture in my mind. Of a big piece of newspaper. And I took all the bad thoughts in my mind and wrapped them up, very tight, in this newspaper. Then I threw them in the rubbish bin. I do this whenever the bad thoughts come back. And then, I tell myself to think about good things. About things I want to happen. Do you know what? 
JULIET appears to be asleep. 
CHRISTINE (CONT’D)
Good things happen. I discovered that if you think about good things, good things will happen.
CHRISTINE kisses CHRISTOPHER’S cheek. Lightly, wryly.
JULIET
Will I get more toys?
CHRISTINE
If you want. But what about poor Peter? Isn’t he more important? 
JULIET
He got more toys than me. 
CHRISTINE
I’m sure he didn’t. Toys aren’t important anyway, are they, Chris?
CHRISTOPHER
It’s love that’s important.
JULIET
He always got new toys. I only got someone else’s. I hate Peter.
CHRISTINE
You don’t mean that, Juliet. I’m sure you don’t mean that.
JULIET smiles.
JULIET
I pretended.
Pause.

JULIET (CONT’D)
I pretended.
CHRISTOPHER
Pretended what?
JULIET
I pretended I was drowning. So Peter would jump in.
CHRISTOPHER
Peter’s death was an accident, Juliet. This isn’t a game. 
JULIET
I hate Peter. 
CHRISTOPHER
No, you don’t.
JULIET
I killed him. 
CHRISTOPHER
No, you didn’t.
JULIET
I did so! I did so kill Peter!
CHRISTOPHER
You did not! Listen to me - !
He seizes JULIET and shakes her, violently. She screams.
CHRISTINE
Chris! Chris - !
She pulls CHRISTOPHER away. He steps back, away, arms raised. Shocked by his own loss of control.
JULIET
I did so kill him! I hate you too! 
CHRISTOPHER
I’m sorry, Juliet. I’m sorry - 
ALASTAIR
It was an accident. The man’s an animal, Juliet.
As ALASTAIR approaches, JULIET “turns”. She snarls and bares her teeth. A hissing, spitting, feral cherub. 
ALASTAIR (CONT’D)
Oooh. You little vixen.
JULIET
I’ll kill you too!
ALASTAIR
We may need to deploy The Pacifier.
CHRISTOPHER
She doesn’t know what she’s saying.
JERRY
She knows. Matter is evil.
CHRISTOPHER
Shut up, Jerry! Leave her alone!
ALASTAIR and GRACE attempt to back JULIET into a corner. JULIET scurries past towards COLETTE who jumps aside. 
COLETTE
Get away!
JULIET climbs into the scaffolding.
COLETTE (CONT’D)
You get down from there this minute! Will you please get that child out of here immediately! Don’t touch that! 
JULIET tears down a curtain as she clambers to the top. 
COLETTE (CONT’D)
Don’t you dare touch that! You come down from there right now! Those curtains cost money!
JULIET reaches the top. She stares down. They stare up. A young female Quasimodo and The Villagers From Hell.
GRACE
Get the fire hose. The girl killed her brother.
CHRISTOPHER
She’s only six. She doesn’t know what she did. She’s not responsible. 
GRACE
I blame the parents. 
ALASTAIR
I blame Eve. 
GRACE
Eve was a victim and you know it.
ALASTAIR
Then I blame fluoride and electromagnetic radiation and the freewheeling drug-addled 1960s.
COLETTE
She may be a bad seed.
JERRY
Matter is evil.
ALASTAIR
You can’t stay up there forever, sweetheart.
GRACE
She’ll come down when she’s hungry.
COLETTE
We’re having chocolate for dinner. Mm mm.
CHRISTOPHER
Please come down.
CHRISTINE
It was an accident.
GRACE
We had accidents too. I poisoned myself with two huge handfuls of Panadol.
COLETTE
I hanged myself. How silly am I?
ALASTAIR
I blew my brains out my ears with a line of coke like Moby Dick’s shit. Greed is a legitimate accident.
JERRY
A train used a naughty pressure differential to suck me under its wheels.
CHRISTINE
We had a car crash.
CHRISTOPHER
Please come down. I won’t let them hurt you.
ALASTAIR
You didn’t find the auto option a bit post-modern?
GRACE
Nobody can tell if you did or didn’t mean to do it. 
CHRISTOPHER
I promise they won’t hurt you.
GRACE
Pre or post air bags?
CHRISTOPHER
It was a ‘62 Valiant with faulty wipers and worn ball joints, it was held together with bog, it was ploughing through heavy rain up a  notorious north coast section of the Pacific Highway. It was a road statistic certainty. 
CHRISTINE
You didn’t do it.
COLETTE
J’accuse!
CHRISTOPHER
For six hundred kilometres this voice in my head kept whispering “Do it. Yank the wheel. Do it”. It was the rain.
CHRISTINE
What stopped you? Not hope? 
CHRISTOPHER
I drowned the voice out with the blues. The real blues. Hope, maybe. How about I just sit here until you’re ready to come down? 
ALASTAIR
Then it’s off to Girls Town, pet.
CHRISTOPHER
Touch her, I’ll kill you.
ALASTAIR
Violence begets violence. 
GRACE
What sort of example are you setting?
CHRISTOPHER
(fiercely)
Stay away. 
ALASTAIR tolls the hour on the great bell.
A beam of light hits the doorway, from outside.
CHRISTINE
I have to go. 
CHRISTOPHER
Take Juliet.
CHRISTINE
Do you want to come with me? Don’t you want to see Peter?
JULIET
(smiles)
No. I like it here.
CHRISTINE hovers at the doorway.
CHRISTINE
You should have told me your thoughts. On the road.
CHRISTOPHER
“Honey, I know we’re on our way to get married but I’m having negative thoughts about how long it’ll last because you’re terminally ill while I have the feeling my commitment phobia is only in remission and are the two related? I’m considering running off the road. It’s the only solution. What do you think?”
CHRISTINE
I think you should stop the car. Will I see you?
CHRISTOPHER
I’m forgiven, am I?
CHRISTINE
You can’t stay here. They know you’re all talk. 
CHRISTOPHER
You underestimate the power of negative thinking.
CHRISTINE
Lose the sense of humour. 
CHRISTOPHER
It’s harder to kick than heroin or religion. I’m down to ten witty ripostes a day. 
They watch JULIET defiantly pull the wheels off the cart, jam them on the end of curtain rods, and wedge the rods upright in cracks in scaffolding boards. The wheels-on-poles stand like totems. (Ref: Brueghel). JULIET lays Barbie across one of the wheels, like an executed criminal of Mediaeval times. Lays the toad across the other.
CHRISTINE
I have to go. Come with me.
CHRISTOPHER
(staying)
Compassion must be tested.
CHRISTINE exits.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
Can I come up there with you?
JULIET
No.
CHRISTOPHER
I won’t hurt you. 
He climbs - slowly - up to JULIET. She looks for escape.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I want to be your friend. Will you let me be your friend? I’ll just sit here. I won’t come any closer.
He sits a way from her. Waits. Looks down at the others. 
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
(to JULIET)
Don’t they look silly from up here? You look silly. Yes, you. 
(sing song)
You look silly.
JULIET cracks a smile.
JULIET
(sing song)
You look silly.
CHRISTOPHER
You’re very tired, sweetheart. How about you have a little sleep? Why don’t you come over here and I’ll tell you a story. Then you can have a sleep and in the morning we’ll go exploring. Come on. Come over here. 
JULIET edges to him. Slowly. Climbs onto his knee. Wary.
CHRISTOPHER (CONT’D)
I won’t hurt you. I’m your friend.
OK. Close your eyes. Close them. Can’t sleep with your eyes open.
JULIET finally closes her eyes.
CHRISTOPHER
This is a story about a man who didn’t know how to love. And he didn’t know why. And because he didn’t know how to love, he was very unhappy. He went round laughing and pretending he was happy, but he wasn’t. Then one day, something happened.. 
JULIET
I’m still awake.
CHRISTOPHER
Close your eyes.
JULIET
My daddy sings to me.
She waits for CHRISTOPHER to sing.
CHRISTOPHER responds tentatively with a soft, talking blues lullaby. Half-spoken recitative. As he rocks JULIET to sleep. 
The Wheel illuminates. Seems to turn, slowly, anti-clockwise.
CHRISTOPHER’S vocal gains confidence. And melody.
And he sings. Released.
His lullaby is “Dante’s Blues (Wholly Lost And Gone)”.
CHRISTOPHER
Midway this way of life we are bound upon (2x)
I found myself a-wandering in a darkened wood
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone

Oh Lord, I’m lost and gone, wholly lost and gone (3x) 
I’m gonna find my way back home one day

Got to find the way to love, got to find the way
(3x)
I’m going to find my way back home one day
The Wheel dims. JULIET rings the great bell. A signal.
Hell’s choir perform an uptempo hot gospel “Dante’s Blues”. CHRISTOPHER joins. Got soul. Or the start of one.

 

END OF PART 2

 

 


(c)    Tim Gooding
        June 2015