Bloodlines - The Last Chapter by Geoff Cook

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

THE LAST CHAPTER - ACT ONE

SCENE ONE The action takes place currently in the Algarve and
London simultaneously

The stage is in pitch blackness except for the strain of the glow
from the moon at the upper level. There is complete silence for
several seconds. The silence is broken by the sound of a car engine
and the movement of tires on gravel. Headlights break the darkness,
swing from SFL to highlight a small, battered and broken suitcase
behind a man holding a duty free bag with a laptop case over his
shoulder, standing some metres in front of the wooden frontage of a
small cottage. The headlights pick out the front of the house and
remain on the building.

ROGER
(obvious relief) You're a star! For the first time, you've
actually done exactly what I asked! I take back everything I said on
the way here about Algarvean taxi drivers. You're not really an
arrogant, stubborn moron! Just keep the lights focused on the building
while I find the key. (moves hurriedly toward the front of the
building) Where did Lance say it was? There's a small cupboard to
the side of the front door. (the headlights move around from the front
of the building together with the sound of tires on gravel. The engine
noise picks up as the car drives off. The headlights disappear as the
sound of the vehicle recedes into the distance, leaving the stage once
again in total darkness.
(shouting, almost out of control) You bastard! You're a total
cretin and I really meant every word I said! You must be the only taxi
driver on the planet who doesn't know what GPS is! For your
information, it's an acronym for Global Positioning System and not
"going past a second time"! And look! I'm giving you the finger,
if you could only see it! Just wait! I'll complain to the public
vehicle licensing authorities about the taxi driver at Faro airport
with the goatee beard and the unpronounceable name! Your days of
driving innocent victims around the countryside aimlessly for hours on
end are seriously numbered.
(breaks off. There is total silence for several seconds, after which
the voice is composed and low key.)
God! This is a godforsaken place. Why does Lance own a wooden shack
at the end of a dirt track in the middle of nowhere? Hardly a holiday
home, more a venue for "I'm a silly sod for listening to my agent
Get me out of here!" Just listen! (waits) Precisely! Nothing.
Not a sound. Not even the comforting hum of the N27 bus to Chalk Farm.
The squelch of tires on a deserted rain sodden road in the wee small
hours. Absolutely nothing! What's that scratching noise? Could be
rats. There are no dangerous animals in Portugal, are there? No
werewolves or boa constrictors? No beetles that crawl up into your
penis and make you die in excruciating pain? Just my luck to be
attacked by some undiscovered species living in the Algarvean
hillside. (a few seconds silence) How am I going to find this bloody
key? Pity I gave up smoking. No lighter. No matches. I suppose I could
snuggle up against a tree trunk and wait until daybreak. Probably die
of exposure. There again, hardly likely in September. Body of
potentially famous author found . No! Moderately successful,
potentially famous.. No! Remains of moderately etcetera body
devoured by rats. No, giant ants. God, I itch all over. Oh,
Domingos, where are you? Help me for Heaven's sake. Don't you
travel outside of the British Isles? Mind, can't say I blame you. I
don't know how or why I let them convince me to come. The heat
brings me out in sweat bumps and I really don't need to "get my
head around the ending" as Lance puts it. Domingos? Speak to me! If
the spirit world does have geographic limitations, then send me a
message! ( a second's realization) That's it! The mobile. Thanks
Domingos. You've solved the problem. (the light from the mobile
screen lights up and he traces his way gingerly to the front of the
building. After searching, he finds the cupboard and extracts a torch
and a key)
(animated) Now, we're in business. (light from torch highlights
door. Enters with key) Where's the fuse box? Does Uncle Tom's
cabin actually have electricity? (finds box) Yes, it does! (lights
inside building come on. He takes his time to look around. The
interior is sparse and basic. There are various papers pinned to the
wall with instructions. He goes around reading from them.) Turn
cesspool pump on for one hour only every day. Check level of water in
well daily. As necessary, turn pump on to fill reserve tank . Gas
bottle for hot water and stove is outside back door. Attach hose and
switch on. Make sure gas boiler pilot light is on when gas is
connected. Ring this number for replacement bottle. To avoid risk of
shock, do not touch electric shower fitting. Jesus! Remains of would
have been famous author found naked in shower with hair standing on
end! (sarcastically) All modern amenities here! I can see I've
arrived at the cutting edge of technology and easy living. Where's
the stable for the horse? Should I have saved the newspaper so that I
can wipe my bum? Do giant rats live in the cesspool and crawl up
inside the toilet when I'm sitting on it? Stop it, Roger! Your
vivid, juvenile imagination will otherwise leave you constipated for a
week.
(continues to walk around opening cupboards etc. finally taking out
his laptop and putting it on kitchen table along with the duty free
bag)
You're not going to tell me this place actually has a telephone
line and broadband. Surely, such technology is still a mere century
away. (waits as his laptop starts up. There is a Windows noise)
Amazing! One giant leap for mankind. From Dickens to Dell in the blink
of an eye. We may die horribly tomorrow from gas poisoning or electric
shock, but we can let the world know in an instant of our demise.
Facebook and Twitter meet the outside loo!
(Plays with the computer and then takes out his mobile. Dials a
number and waits for a reply. - A light on a mobile coming to life
comes on in the darkness of the stage (area 2), representing the
bedroom in the London apartment see diagram)- No answer. Message.)
Darling, I'm sorry it's so late. Total cock-up at the airport. You
probably know. Call me back on the mobile. I won't answer. Then
I'll Skype you. Remember what I told you. To avoid confusion, I've
set up a shortcut key on the computer. All you have to do is press the
button at the top of the keyboard that says F10. Then carry on
talking. Love you. Call me.
(Returns to opening cupboards and finds the wine store) Now, for the
first time today, things are looking up. (couches the bottle of wine
to his chest and briefly looks for a glass and corkscrew. Finds a
glass but no corkscrew. Gives up and returns to the table where he
puts the wine and glass next to the computer. Looks at the wine
longingly)
I'll call Lance on his mobile. Two birds with one stone. Find out
where the sadist hides his corkscrew and tell him what I think of this
"romantic hillside retreat and his bloody stupid idea." (Calls on
the computer. A mobile light comes on in the darkness of the stage
- The speaker on the computer relays the ringing tone and then
reverts to Lance's answer phone message. "You're through to
Lance. If you're a client, I'm busy working on your behalf. If
you've phoned to sell me something, don't bother calling back.
I've got one and it doesn't work. If you're anybody else, I
can't imagine why I would want to speak to you, but leave a
message.")
Very droll. It's er .. (looks at his watch, then searches for
his glasses which he cannot find) . Can't find my specs.
Whatever, it's late and I've finally arrived at this godforsaken
hole to start my solitary confinement . All I need is for my esteemed
literary agent who rarely works on my behalf, except to fiddle my
royalty statement, to tell me where he keeps the sodding corkscrew so
that I can induce anesthesia with his disgustingly cheap plonk. Call
me!
(Returns to look for the corkscrew. Hunts all over. Gradually his
search becomes more frenetic as his task yields no result.) Come on!
Turn up! Don't think I won't break the neck off of the bottle. So,
there's no point in hiding. Come to daddy! (eventually opens up a
drawer and finds the corkscrew. Sits down at the kitchen table again
with relief. Goes to put the corkscrew in the neck of the bottle, only
to find that it's a screw top. Flings the corkscrew across the
kitchen, opens the bottle and pours a glass of wine. Opens the duty
free bag and takes out a camera box and a USB lead, both of which he
places on the table. He reads the text on the outside of the camera
box, turns it around lovingly, but does not open it.)
(Area 2 is suddenly illuminated. SARAH is sitting on the edge of the
bed, dressing gown on, towel wrapped around her head, the computer
table in front of her. She is studying the keyboard intently. Her hand
hovers over the keyboard. She is riddled with doubt as to what to do.
There is a full glass of wine on the table next to her which she
drinks from at regular intervals during the next set.)
SARAH
God, this is ridiculous. What was it? F10? Where the hell's F10.
Sounds like a racing car. Why can't we just talk to each other on
the phone like normal people? There it is. Press F10. OK. Now what?
Roger, are you there? (Nothing happens) What a day! The man is a
walking disaster area. Oh, sod this! Get stuffed, Roger! (Gives up and
reaches for her mobile. Speed dials. The mobile on Roger's table
(Area 1) lights up and rings)
ROGER
(The mobile continues ringing. Roger does not answer) (talking to
himself) OK, Sarah. I've called you on Skype. Now press F10. (The
mobile keeps ringing) Ring off then! (talks into computer mike) Sarah?
Are you there? Press F10!
SARAH
(mobile to her ear) Why aren't you answering? You must be there.
You only called me five minutes ago. Have you gone to bed? It's like
being married to some unpredictable caged wild animal. You never know
what he's going to do next. Why is there no peace in my life? It's
all I crave.
ROGER
(Mobile is still ringing. ROGER is in a rage) Press F10, you stupid
cow! Can't you remember a basic instruction? (Cuts off the call on
the mobile. Silence reigns. Takes a large swig of wine. Muses) Are all
women machine illiterate, unable to follow basic instructions or is it
just that my wife automatically subconsciously resents doing anything
I tell her to? Are we in some sort of competitive struggle of
non-compliance that will lead to one of us eventually going insane? If
so, Sarah, you're winning. Is it so complicated? The objective is
simple. Why waste money when you can talk for nothing?
(the mobile rings again. He waits, then answers. His attitude is
lovey-dovey) Hello, darling. Got problems with the computer?
SARAH
I know you told me the bloody sequence, but nothing seems to be
happening. I'm pressing this F10 thing like some demented maniac,
but no good. You don't go through all that palaver when you use it?
ROGER
(slow and patiently) I explained all that, darling. We live in a
postage stamp apartment with a box for a second bedroom which I use as
an office. Whilst your mother's staying with us, I've temporarily
moved the old computer into our bedroom.


SARAH
(tetchy) You don't have to give me chapter and verse. Just tell me
again what to do. Anyway, I've sent mum back to the home. God, if I
ever get dementia, take me out and shoot me!
ROGER
(still slow and patient) You were only prepared to sanction having
the computer in the bedroom on the condition that the screen didn't
suddenly burst into life halfway through the night when an email
arrived or some lonely heart from central Africa wanted to have a
friendly chat on Skype. So, I changed the settings on the computer to
simplify things.
SARAH
Well, it scared the life out of me. Nobody wants to be woken up in
the early hours by some desperate romantic from Somalia who wants to
read you a poem.
ROGER
Come on. It was only once. And she was a sweet girl.
SARAH
And then there's that ridiculous electronic refrain. Anyway, get
on. It's late and I want to know what the hell's been going on.
ROGER
Look, it's simple. To overcome the problem, I've left the
microphone on, but the monitor is out of action and I've
disconnected the speakers, which means you can't see or hear when
I'm calling on Skype. All we have to do when one of us wants to
speak to the other is ring on the mobile, but don't answer. That's
the signal for me to call you. At your end, I've fixed it so that
you just press the F10 key. We can then talk for as long as we want. I
wrote all this down on the clipboard.
SARAH
I know. I've been busy, harassed all day. I forgot.
ROGER
(hand over mobile) Not listening in the first place, that's the
problem.
SARAH
Are you still there?
ROGER
Yes. I'm calling you on Skype now. As soon as you like, F10.
SARAH
Leave the mobile on until we're certain we've made contact. (puts
down the mobile on the bed) Now, F10.
ROGER
That's it. I can see you. The webcam's on. Hear me OK?
SARAH
(sits there looking blankly at the screen, waiting. Talking to
herself, the mobile still on the bed) Don't remember it taking this
long.
ROGER
(frustrated) Put the headphones on. (no reaction from SARAH) (ROGER
shouts, out of control) Put the effing headphones on! It's all
written down on the clipboard! (picks up the mobile) Sarah! Sarah!
Pick up your mobile!

SARAH
If you can hear me, it's not working. What shall I do?
ROGER
(shouting into the mobile) Put the headphones on, you silly cow!
SARAH
(hears the noise from the mobile) Did you say something? I said
it's not working.
ROGER
(calm, keeping his temper in check) I was just commenting that you
need to put your headphones on.
SARAH
(in a voice that suggests she has known all along) Of course. Where
are they?
ROGER
Where I told you they were. On the shelf under the computer.

SARAH
Got 'em. (drops the mobile back on the bed and puts on the
headphones) That's it. (waits) Still can't hear you.
ROGER
I don't believe this is happening. Can't you see the lead is
dangling in your crotch? Put the bloody plug into the computer! You
must be doing this on purpose, Sarah. Is that what you want? To give
me apoplexy? Calm down, boy. Count to ten.
SARAH
No. It's just not happening. Come in Roger. Over. (suddenly
realizes the headphones are not connected and tries surreptitiously to
put the lead into the computer) Now, we're on line. Are you there?
ROGER
(with resignation) Yes, I'm here. You look a bit windswept. Is
everything alright?
SARAH
Fine. It's you I want to talk about. What the hell happened? I get
up at the crack of dawn to drop you off at the airport two hours
before your flight and you've just turned up in Portugal nearly
sixteen hours later.
ROGER
(calm and chastened ) It's a long story.
SARAH
That's the idea of this free computer phone business, isn't it?
You've got all the time in the world.
ROGER
I got into the wrong check in queue. It was the smallest. The others
stretched for miles. Got to the front only for some old battleaxe to
tell me that I was at the wrong desk. I hadn't paid for a speedy
check-in extra on line, so I had to join the other queue.
SARAH
Why didn't you pay for it then and there?

ROGER
In the first place, for some ludicrous reason, you can only pay on
line and , absurdly, the speedy check-in excess costs twice as much as
I paid for the flight.
SARAH
So? You joined the queue?
ROGER
I did. The departure board advised that the flight was delayed until
noon, so I was relaxed about the fifty thousand in front of me and the
two runny-nosed brats in the good catholic family behind who
couldn't stop sniveling.
SARAH
Poor mites. Probably been up half the night.
ROGER
The other four kids seemed happy enough.
SARAH
So you checked in and waited?
ROGER
Don't rush me, darling. If you want to understand what happened,
you have to appreciate my state of mind.
SARAH
I've been trying to do that, I might add unsuccessfully, for the
last twenty years.
ROGER
I finally got to the front of the queue and gave another old
battleaxe the internet reference. Just one piece of cabin baggage, I
told her. . . . How could it be too big? No discussion. No argument.
If it didn't fit into some ridiculous little metal frame, it had to
go in the hold.
SARAH
Was that a problem?
ROGER
(incredulous) Was it a problem? In the first place, the bag was bound
to fit.

SARAH
(incredulous) And did it?
ROGER
It's a ridiculous frame. I had to squeeze and force the bag. Lost
my temper. The family behind was putting me under pressure,
complaining about the delay. I was getting stressed out.
SARAH
Was that when the police got involved?
ROGER
How do you know about that? No, that was much later on. I finally
got the bloody bag to fit. Unfortunately, it ripped along the line of
the zip. Some of the clothes were hanging out. I don't think
you'll be able to use it again without some sticky tape.
SARAH
(angry) That suitcase is part of a matching set. I knew I
shouldn't have let you borrow it. I could kick myself. Lance bought
it for us to celebrate getting the publishing contract. Anyway, this
saga is laboring somewhat. Can you cut a long story short? So you put
the case in the cabin?
ROGER
No. The bitch was determined to get her own way. When she spotted the
laptop, I was stuffed. Only one item of hand luggage. The suitcase was
duly bound for the hold, but only after the luggage handling excess
fee had been paid. That meant leaving the queue and going to the cash
desk to face yet another hag. By this stage, I was losing my
patience.
SARAH
So you ended up insulting somebody and getting arrested? You are a
rude bastard, you know that, don't you?
ROGER
No. It wasn't like that. It's true, I was fuming and, I admit, I
did tell the woman at the cash desk that I could easily see why she
had been turned down for a job with Virgin, but that was only after
she told me the baggage handling fee was double what it should have
been, had I booked it on the bloody internet. She had so much
foundation smarmed on her cheeks, it was difficult to tell if she was
going red in the face, but I swear she started to melt in front of me.
I casually mentioned that the lines on her forehead were beginning to
show and that she looked like an Apache Indian chief. Then came the
tears. Anyway, the supervisor she called finally sorted it out and I
was back in the queue for the check-in desk. (stops and looks hard at
the screen) You know you really do look a little disheveled, not your
normal, carefully groomed appearance. Still lovely as ever, just
different. Are you sure you're alright?
SARAH
Yes, I'm perfectly fine. Go on.
ROGER
You wouldn't credit it, but there was a catchphrase under the
airline neon that says, Mansion Air, "Your Holiday starts right
here. Get in the spirit." I looked at the check-in ogre glaring at
me and I thought, "No effing way." There is no seat allocation
was the answer when I asked to sit by the aisle. She seemed to take
great satisfaction in telling me that single unaccompanied men would
be the last to go on the plane unless I paid the early boarding
excess. I threw my hands up in the air and simply asked her how it was
possible to be an early boarder when the flight was three hours late?
SARAH
You seemed to have endeared yourself to the ground staff. I'm still
curious as to how the police got involved.
ROGER
That was when I told the spotty little salesman in the electronics
duty free that I was going to punch his lights out. And I almost did.
SARAH
You did what?
ROGER
These large retail chains are very devious the way they plan and
publicise their sales promotions. It started off simply enough. All I
wanted to do was wile away a few hours whilst I was waiting for the
sodding plane.
SARAH
I've come to the conclusion over the years, Roger, that nothing is
simple and straightforward with you. You can turn hello and a
handshake into a major international incident.

ROGER
What's that supposed to mean? That I take things at face value and
get angry if I feel somebody's taking advantage of me? Well, I
suppose I do. And if the business world was more honest and morally
upfront when it dealt with its customers, you wouldn't end up with
the indignities I suffered today.
SARAH
It sounded pretty serious when the police spoke to me.
ROGER
Spoke to you? What was their reason for worrying you unnecessarily? I
don't understand what you could possibly add to the story.
SARAH
They wanted me to verify who you were, personal details, your
background and political leanings. That sort of thing.
ROGER
(amazed) Political leanings? What's that got to do with an argument
with some obnoxious assistant in a duty free shop.
SARAH
I got the idea they suspected you might be a terrorist.
ROGER
Terrorist? Do I look like a terrorist?
SARAH
What does a terrorist look like? These days, anybody could be one.
Not every bad guy has a long flowing beard and looks like he comes
from the Middle East.
ROGER
This is ridiculous. All I did was read a poster that said any
purchase of a computer or accessory entitled you to get a password so
that you could access the internet for free while you were in the
airport. So, I simply asked the salesman what was the cheapest
computer accessory he had in store. At first, he tried to con me into
buying an external hard drive for fifty quid, but, much to his
annoyance, after much cajoling, I managed to end up with a USB
converter for one pound ninety nine.
SARAH
Go on. The hairs are beginning to stand up on the back of my neck.
ROGER
The trouble was, there was another poster that defied you to find any
of the products sold at a lower price elsewhere and the company would
refund twice the difference. Two hours to kill, the internet at my
disposal; it seemed like a challenge I could not resist .
SARAH
Why didn't you read a newspaper or sit down with a drink at the bar
and stare at women, just like any normal man?
ROGER
I like a challenge. Anyway, about forty minutes before the flight was
finally due to leave, I came up with the Apollo Invincible, a
virtually indestructible digital camera with God knows how many pixies
or whatever they call them. Price in Sterling including delivery from
Hong Kong to any UK address was nearly two hundred pounds cheaper than
the duty free price. Double that and what was the final cost of the
camera?
SARAH
Go on. Surprise me.
ROGER
Final cost of camera, twenty five pounds. Too good to miss.
SARAH
But you don't like photography. I've never known you to take a
picture, not even on a mobile phone!
ROGER
That's irrelevant, isn't it? Give it to somebody as a Christmas
present. The real issue was, I genuinely believed that I had beaten
the system. The little man had triumphed over big business. I felt
invincible.
SARAH
Misplaced confidence, I presume?
ROGER
And how! My first sortie was to tell spotty face that I wanted to
buy the Invincible. Elation on his face, suddenly obliterated when I
told him that I had found the exact same model so much cheaper that,
with the duty free offer, I would just be paying twenty five pounds. I
gave him the reference to the web site and offered my twenty five
pounds. He said it didn't work that way. I had to buy the camera at
the duty free price and then claim back the discount.
SARAH
Something tells me I'm not going to like this.
ROGER
By this stage, I'm hooked. I hand over my credit card, pay the duty
free price and take possession of an Apollo Invincible with, as a free
gift, an invincible carrying case. Naturally, I then claim my discount
back.
SARAH
But you didn't get it. Is that right?
ROGER
The conniving little bugger then tells me the terms and conditions
state that I have to make my claim in writing to the Company's head
office. If, mark you, IF the claim is accepted, I will receive a
credit note for twice the difference to spend in any of the
company's duty free airport shops. What terms and conditions I ask.
There, at the bottom of the poster written in tiny scribble in what
must be one stage up from invisible ink are the words I can just make
out "terms and conditions apply".
SARAH
So you're telling me you've now spent the best part of four
hundred pounds that we can really ill afford until the book's
published, on a totally useless item that will never be used!
ROGER
On top of that, he tells me that these wonderful terms and
conditions, which, by the way, he has written in pencil in an exercise
book, also state that internet prices are subject to excess for
delivery, import duty and VAT. At the end of the day, the actual
difference is about twenty quid.
SARAH
What did you do?

ROGER
I lost my temper and told the idiot he was a cheating bastard and I
wanted the sale cancelled and a refund put on my card. He knew what
he was doing. The message on the tannoy was for the last remaining
Faro passenger to go to the gate, so I was up against it. He had my
flight details, so all he had to do was hang around. I warned him. My
fist was clenched, my hand raised and then everything becomes a blur.
Lights were flashing, bells ringing. The next thing I knew, three
policemen are sitting all over me. I couldn't move a muscle. They
keep you immobile as they carry you off.
SARAH
(half laughing scornfully) They must have really thought they had a
bona fide terrorist on their hands. I bet you caused a stir in the
airport.
ROGER
It's frightening, believe me. You're stripped naked , arms and
legs apart so you can't touch one part of your body with another.
You're forced face against a wall, kissing the plaster. Hand and leg
clamps bolted to the wall cuff you so that movement is impossible.
It's medieval. I was strung up naked like Da Vinci's Vitruvian man
while they intimately body searched me. All this is going on, at the
same time, you're trying to reason with them in a sort of moronic
voice that's hampered by the fact that you can't move your lips
properly and your dick's chafing against the paintwork. I was just
praying I didn't catch some sexually transmitted disease from the
last guy whose genitals were squeezed up against the brickwork.
SARAH
Surely, they must have realized you weren't a danger to anybody but
yourself, a sort of one man Mr Bean virtual reality show?
ROGER
(peeved) You seem to find my harrowing ordeal mildly amusing?
SARAH
If it wasn't for a ruined suitcase and a wasted four hundred pounds
on a useless camera, I might.
ROGER
Hardly useless. Apart from being indestructible, it'll take
pictures up to three hundred metres under the sea.
SARAH
What good's that to you? You can't swim. You even start to panic
when you're standing up in the shallow end, trying to put your head
under the water!
ROGER
(Defiant) It's got a voice activated three hour video and six hour
voice recorder and it'll withstand temperatures of over five hundred
degrees centigrade.
SARAH
Oh good. You can take some goodbye snaps for the family album while
you're being cremated! And, by the way, I hope it's sooner than
later!
ROGER
You're showing very little compassion for my ordeal. It was really
a very harrowing experience. I spent over an hour, sitting naked at a
table answering all sorts of ridiculous personal questions about my
life, acquaintances, travel history and beliefs. By this time my
flight had left and I couldn't get the image out of mind of having
to cross swords again with the battleaxe with the face like a dead
Apache chief.
SARAH
If you're looking for sympathy, you really have come to the wrong
person. Listen! This afternoon, I'm sitting in the hairdressers,
minding my own business, tittle tattling with the girls when there's
a call on the mobile from the Border Agency Special Forces who tell me
they've taken my husband into custody and want to clear up a few
facts.
ROGER
What did they say I'd done?
SARAH
They simply said you'd been causing a disturbance in the departure
lounge. For security reasons, they had to ensure that you weren't
acting as a decoy to detract attention from somebody else. It's a
code red sensitive area and all possibilities have to be
investigated.
ROGER
You obviously didn't put their minds at rest. They were more or
less ready to let me go. All they needed was to verify my personal
details. That's when they must have called you. I then had another
hour's grilling before they sent me packing.
SARAH
I must have made you sound secretive. I only mentioned Domingos in an
attempt to lighten the atmosphere, convince them that you were just a
harmless eccentric buffoon who wouldn't harm a fly.
ROGER
Eccentric buffoon! You don't have a very high opinion of me.
SARAH
All I told them was that you were an author, just finishing a
fictional stroke factual work comparing the recent spate of cases
where young girls had been abducted and kept locked away for years and
years. You'd had a disagreement with your agent about the ending . .
.
ROGER
Not just my agent, my wife as well.
SARAH
OK. Your wife as well. But her motives are purely ones of financial
necessity. She wants to see the book finished. Anyway, I said you'd
agreed to take up your agent's offer and stay at his holiday home on
the Algarve to reflect on and finish the book so that you can meet the
publisher's deadline.
ROGER
And the reference to Domingos?
SARAH
They asked what sort of friends you had, who you associated with. I
said you were pretty much a loner, with no real close allies. And
then, to lighten the tone of the conversation, I just happened to
mention him.
ROGER
In what context? They kept going on about him, repeating the same
questions, time after time. I obviously didn't know you'd
mentioned him. I thought I must have let his name drop during the
interrogation.
SARAH
All I said was that he is a made up character, a sort of alter ego
whom you spend hour upon hour talking to and that you attribute the
course you're taking in the book to suggestions which emanate from
him. It's sort of like talking into a mirror to convince yourself
that your opinion is the right one. If I had a pound for every time
you've said "Domingos reckons. " Well, I'd be rich beyond my
wildest dreams.
ROGER
It's nothing like looking into a mirror. I believe the guy's the
spirit of one of the Cardoso twins, the one who went over to live in
Brazil and wrote poetry and I've never seen him. I just hear his
voice. Anyway, was that it?
SARAH
Hardly. The concept of Domingos enthralled them. How did I know he
wasn't a real person? How did I know you didn't have some hidden
cellphone on your person that you used to actually speak with him?
What nationality was he? Did he ever express any radical thoughts?
They went on and on.
ROGER
Much the same as they did with me. Actually, they came up with a few
questions I must ask him about when I next speak with him. He
doesn't seem to have made it over here yet.
SARAH
Good. That's the best news I've had all day. Now can we shut up
about Domingos? You may be going nuts, but I'm not far behind. I
want a little sanity in my life, a little, no a lot, of TLC. I've
had enough lately of spending my life in a threesome with some figment
of your imagination. On the rare occasion we get intimate, I'm not
sure who I'm making love to, you or some gnarled up old codger. The
only similarity is, you've both got bad breath!
ROGER
Look! I'm sorry. I know you've been through it today. Let's
just . . . . . .(noise of toilet flushing) What was that noise? I
heard the toilet flush . I thought you said mum was back in the home.

SARAH
(hesitates momentarily) She is going back, but she didn't want to
go today. She's scared about something, so I let her come into our
bedroom. I'm taking her back first thing tomorrow.
ROGER
I'm not going to be out here long. I need to speak to Lance
tonight, before he goes to bed. This won't work. I spent the entire
flight trying to convince myself to revert to the conventional ending,
but there's a knot in my stomach. I'm sure that the uncle, Helio,
is implicated, and it's not just the girl's grandfather who's
the guilty party. Let me get onto Lance and I'll call back.
SARAH
Don't ring again tonight, Rog. I'm really tired and I need to go
to my bed. The thought that we're going through all this Skype
nonsense to save a few pounds when you've spent a fortune on some
silly camera. It just makes me so angry. Ring tomorrow when I've had
time to sleep on it. I might feel better. Now, what do I do to turn
this thing off. Just press F10?
ROGER
I know you can't see me, but I can see you and I know you're fed
up with me. I'll ring you in the morning. I am sorry about
everything. Goodnight, darling.
SARAH
Goodnight. (she makes a big thing of pressing F10 to ensure the line
is dead) Roger, are you still there? Roger?
(Roger is lost in thought as he ends the contact at his end. The
light on his side of the stage goes out leaving area 1 in darkness.
The light remains on in area 2. SARAH stands up and walks toward the
bathroom door.)
You can come out now.
( LANCE emerges from the bathroom in his underpants. They kiss
passionately)

[end of extract]

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