Follow the Southern Cross by John Ross


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


ACT I

      SCENE 1

      OVERTURE
      STELLA TAURUS - DUSK - SOMEWHERE IN THE CORAL SEA
      (Stella Taurus set a large
      sailboat, showing the stern deck.
      The sky is bright with some stars
      as the sun is fading. MIKE is
      pacing the deck and is solemn as
      he reads a letter, he turns, drops
      the letter to his side and
      narrates towards the audience.)

      MIKE
      (narrating)
      Dear Mikie. I’m glad one of my letters finally
      got through; your mother must be getting soft.
      Happy eighteenth birthday. I know you have many
      questions, I know you feel I had abandoned you,
      but I’m glad you wrote to ask me what happened
      and what I’ve been doing. Here’s what has
      happened in the last two years, since I lost
      contact with your mother…

      WHERE DO I START?
      WHAT DO YOU NEED?
      THIS STORY IS FOR BOTH YOU AND ME
      AND WHEN TWO LIVES ARE PULLED APART BY SELFISH LACK OF SIGHT
      AT THE BEGINNING, WE FIND ME AND YOUR MOTHER
      I FOUND HER ARMS IN THE ARMS OF ANOTHER
      AND I LEFT YOUR MOTHER THAT NIGHT
      I TOOK TO BOTTLE AND MUG
      A HOOK ON A HORRIBLE DRUG
      I DRANK MY LIFE AWAY
      I POURED MY WIFE AND YOU AWAY
      BUT A BETTER MAN I CAN BE, FOR THIS TIME I FEEL
      A HARDER MAN OF COURSE, I NEEDED TIME TO HEAL
      I FOUND A NEW LIFE, THREE THOUSAND MILES AWAY
      I FOUND LOVE AND A BETTER LOVE THAT COULD SET ME FREE
      I FOUND THAT BETTER MAN, A BETTER MAN I CAN BE
      SHE TOOK YOU AWAY, SHE HAD THE RIGHT
      IT BROKE MY HEART
      I TOOK TO BEING DRUNK AND BECAME A SORRY SIGHT
      FAR AWAY SHE AND YOU WENT, FURTHER INTO HELL I WAS BENT
      ON THE BRINK I MADE A PLEA, I FOUND HELP AND AS FOR ME
      I FOUND A… A NEW START…
      I BECAME A BROKEN MAN WITH NOWHERE TO FLEE
      AND IN THIS LAND DOWN UNDER, A MAGICAL PLACE IF THERE EVER
      WAS
      A YOUNG SOUL AND HARDENED LOVE
      TOOK ME IN AND SHOWED ME MY LIFE BECAUSE
      SHE COULD SEE THE BETTER MAN, BELOW AND ABOVE
      SHE AND I FOUND EACH OTHER AND I, FOUND ME
      I FELT HER LOVE HEAL MY PAIN, STRAIGHT TO MY HEAD
      “Follow the Southern Cross” 1.
      BUT… IN THE END… HER LOVE WOULD…
      FIND HER…
      I TOOK TO BOTTLE AND MUG
      A HOOK ON A HORRIBLE DRUG
      I DRANK MY LIFE AWAY
      I POURED MY WIFE AWAY
      BUT A BETTER MAN I CAN BE, FOR THIS TIME I FEEL
      A HARDER MAN OF COURSE, I NEEDED TIME TO HEAL
      I FOUND A NEW LIFE, EIGHT THOUSAND MILES AWAY
      I FOUND LOVE AND A BETTER LOVE THAT COULD SET ME FREE
      I FOUND THAT BETTER MAN, A BETTER MAN I CAN BE
      …LET’S START FROM WHERE I SHOULD
      BROKEN AND WOUNDED, FEARFUL AND ROTTING INSIDE
      HOW I NOW CAME TO BE, HOW I COULD
      NOT… ANY LONGER… HIDE…
      FADE OUT

      SCENE 2

      A REHAB CENTER, ONE OF MANY ALL ALIKE:
      (MIKE is sitting in a group
      therapy, an A.A. type setting,
      with four other men. LARRY, PETE,
      STEVE and the JACK the counselor
      with ENSEMBLE around in other
      chairs. A coffee pot on a small
      table and a good dose from a smoke
      machine sets the ambience, the
      room si small with a window.)
      JACK
      Okay guys, let’s get started! Someone want to
      start?
      (everyone looks at one another in
      sequence)
      Well, okay then, I’ll begin…

      NOW TODAY WE HAVE TO DISCUSS YOUR, AHEM, REDRESS, A TEMPORARY
      PAUSE
      WE SIT AND TALK AND CRY AND LAUGH, AT OURSELVES AND ONE
      ANOTHER
      WE KNOW OUR FAILURES; WE KNOW THE ROOT, AND KNOW THE CAUSE
      WE DISCUSS OUR WAYS TO HEAL AND MAKE AND TAKE ADVICE, BROTHER
      TO BROTHER
      AN OUNCE OF CURE, FOR A POUND OF ILL
      WE LOST OUR STRENGTH, OUR WILL FOR A DRUG THAT WILL KILL
      TOGETHER WE FIGHT, FOR ONE ANOTHER TO BE PURE
      BUT FOR A WORLD OF PAIN, WE HAVE BUT AN OUNCE OF CURE
      “Follow the Southern Cross” 2.
      ENSEMBLE
      WE FIGHT FOR ONE ANOTHER
      A WAR ON DRUGS, SPIRITS AND PAIN, FOR TOGETHER WE CAN WIN
      YOU ONLY REACH BOTTOM WHEN YOU STOP YOUR DIG
      YOU ONLY GET OUT OF THAT HOLE BY THE HANDS FROM THE RIM
      A PRISON OF FLUID, PASTE, POWDER OR SIMILAR BRIG…
      GIVE ME YOUR HEARTS, YOUR HANDS AND YOUR HOPES TO BOOT
      GIVE ME YOUR FAITH AND YOUR WILL, YOUR SOUL PURE
      TOGETHER WE SHALL BATTLE THE EVIL OF DRINK, THE SMACK OR THE
      TOOT
      TOGETHER WE WILL FIGHT FOR YOUR LIVES; TOGETHER WE WILL COURT
      THE CURE
      ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIND…
      WE FIGHT FOR ONE ANOTHER
      A WAR ON DRUGS, SPIRITS AND PAIN, FOR TOGETHER WE CAN WIN
      YOU ONLY REACH BOTTOM WHEN YOU STOP YOUR DIG
      YOU ONLY GET OUT OF THAT HOLE FROM THE HANDS AT THE RIM
      A PRISON OF FLUID, PASTE, POWDER OR SIMILAR BRIG…
      THE WORLD IS FILLED WITH IMAGES OF BEER AND WINE AND DRUG, OH
      YES
      BUT WE HAVE NO POWER OVER THAT WHICH THEY SELL SO FREELY
      WE HAVE NO POWER OVER THAT WHICH OTHERS USE REGULARLY
      WE HAVE NO WAY OF WINNING, NO WAY TO SUPPRESS…
      UNLESS…
      WE STAY TOGETHER…

      LARRY
      I fell for this woman, I fell so hard, when she
      dumped me I fell again, in that hole dug with
      booze…

      JACK
      Very good Larry, Pete?

      PETE
      I prescribed drugs to my patients, but not one
      did they receive, I took the drugs myself, and
      left my patients deceived…

      JACK
      (nodding and writing)
      And Paul, would you like to share?

      PAUL
      I drank and drugged, lost my kids and home, I
      could never stop by myself. I could never find
      the help I needed…

      JACK
      I understand Paul, it happens all the time, and
      Mike, what do you have to add?
      “Follow the Southern Cross” 3.

      MIKE
      (looking away)
      She took my son, I can’t see him now. She took
      him away, far from my home. I’m alone now, I
      need something to give me life again, to give
      me hope, once I’m free of this place, I’ll need
      more to get me by…

      (RIKA appears at the window to the
      left of the room. MIKE sees her
      and pauses to stare.)

      ENSEMBLE
      WHEN I GET MY LIFE BACK, I REALLY HOPE
      NO MORE WINE BEER OR DOPE
      I GIVE MY LIFE OVER TO MY HIGHER POWER
      I SACRIFICE ALL TO GET WHAT I ONCE HAD
      AN OUNCE OF CURE, FOR A POUND OF ILL
      WE LOST OUR STRENGTH, OUR WILL FOR A DRUG THAT WILL KILL
      TOGETHER WE FIGHT, FOR ONE ANOTHER TO BE PURE
      BUT FOR A TON OF PAIN, WE HAVE BUT AN OUNCE OF CURE

      JACK
      If that’s true Mike, we have a lot to
      discuss…

      (MIKE is still staring at RIKA and
      they smile at one another.)

      JACK (CONT’D)
      Mike? Mike? MIKE!

      MIKE
      (turning, narrating)
      Twenty-eight days after that I was sober and
      able to leave, but I wasn’t cured, there is no
      cure for addiction. But I could relatively
      function again, and I never had to tell them
      what drove me so deep into the bottle. I never
      told anyone.
      (Mike stands and the lights dim)
      After I got out, just a few weeks later, I felt
      alone and in need of something… stimulating.

      FADE OUT

      SCENE 3

      A 747, SOMEWHERE NEAR AUSTRALIA:
      (MIKE is seated on a plane set,
      the set has several of the
      ensemble in seats also. MIKE is
      looking over a brochure of
      Australia with a fake looking
      Crocodile Dundee on the cover)
      “Follow the Southern Cross” 4.

      ENSEMBLE
      ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE WORLD, ON AN ISLAND CONTINENT
      WE TRAVEL TO GLEAN THE ANSWERS OF THE UNIVERSE, TO FIND THE
      TRUTH THAT IS PERTINENT
      TO DISCOVER THE QUESTIONS THAT PLAGUE MANKIND…
      THE ANSWERS WE INTEND TO FIND…

      MAN
      WHERE DOES CROCODILE DUNDEE LIVE?
      DOES THE WATER REALLY FLUSH CLOCKWISE?

      WOMAN
      DOES OUTBACK HAVE A BETTER BLOOMIN ONION HERE?
      IF A MAN IS A BRUCE AND A GIRL A SHEILA, IS A CHILD A SHIRAZ?

      ENSEMBLE
      THOUSANDS OF MILES FROM HOME, WE SEEK THE TRUE QUESTIONS
      WE WANT THE INSIGHT INTO THE SECRETS OR PRIVATE MENTIONS
      TO MAKE LIFE BETTER WE NEED THE SOLUTIONS TO OUR QUERIES
      SEEK OUT THE CANDOR, WE WANT THE FINALITY, NOT THE PANDOR
      TO MYSTERIES OF THE WORLD LIKE…

      MAN
      WHAT TIMES IS THE MIDNIGHT BUFFET?
      HOW FAR IS THE TRAIN RIDE TO NEW ZEALAND?

      WOMAN
      WHICH DIRECTION IS NORTH AUSTRALIA?
      WHAT DO YOU CALL CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRALIA?

      ENSEMBLE
      THE VERITY OF THE LAND IS IMPORTANT, THE TRUTH OF IT ALL
      THE REASON FOR THINGS THAT HAUNT US ALL
      THE CERTITUDE OF MAGICAL ISLAND KNOWN AS OZ
      WE NEED THE RESOLUTIONS TO OUT OUR CAUSE

      MAN
      IS THERE ANY ROYALTY IN KINGS CROSS?
      I HEAR THIS WAS ONCE A PRISON ISLAND, ARE WE ACTUALLY SAFE?

      WOMAN
      WHY IS THE OUTBACK SO FAR OUT OF TOWN?
      WHAT IS VEGEMITE AND WHY DOES IT TASTE LIKE BEER AND LOOK
      LIKE MUSTARD?

      ENSEMBLE
      IN JUST A FEW SHORT MINUTES THE WORLD WILL KNOW
      THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS MOST HUMANS WANT TO SHOW
      HERE WE ARE!
      WE’RE LANDING NOW!
      I’M SO EXCITED!
      IS THAT A DINGO?
      HOW DO YOU CLIMB A GUMTREE?
      IS DRINKING BEER JUST A MAN THING?

      FLIGHT ATTENDANT
      (into microphone)
      Seats up, trays back, get ready for landing….
      (Stage rotates into Kingsford-
      Smith Airport arrivals, customs
      area, ‘choreography’.)

      SCENE 4

      AIRPORT ARRIVALS TERMINAL, CUSTOMS AREA

      ENSEMBLE
      (with choreography)
      HEY, THIS LOOKS JUST LIKE AMERICA! ISN’T AUSTRALIA SUPPOSED
      TO BE AN ISLAND?
      (CUSTOMS AGENT nods to MIKE with
      ENSEMBLE in the line. He beckons
      him forward, CUSTOMS AGENT begins
      to go through MIKE’s suitcase.)

      CUSTOM’S AGENT
      “G’day! Welcome to Australia. First time in our country?

      MIKE
      First time, anywhere, really.

      (CUSTOMS AGENT stops digging in
      the case and his eyes go wide)

      CUSTOM’S AGENT
      Hello Skippy!

      MIKE
      Uh…

      CUSTOM’S AGENT
      What’s this then?

      (CUSTOMS AGENT holds up a wallet
      with a badge in it)

      CUSTOM’S AGENT (CONT’D)
      (in mock cowboy voice)
      Howdy sheriff!

      MIKE
      I’m a police officer.

      CUSTOM’S AGENT
      I should hope so.
      (using American gangster slang)
      You ain’t packin’ any heat, are ya?

      MIKE
      No. No guns.

      CUSTOM’S AGENT
      (closes Mike’s bag)
      Well… I believe we can trust a fellow police
      officer. Refrain from flashing this thing
      around though, eh? Might confuse a bloke.

      MIKE
      Yes sir!

      (MIKE picks up his bag and heads
      to stage left as center stage
      lights dim, a cab is highlighted
      facing the audience. CABBY is
      standing at the side of the cab,
      smoking, dressed in khaki shorts a
      bush shirt and oilskin hat. MIKE
      approaches the right side of the
      car. CABBY drops his butt to the
      ground and smiles big.)

      CABBY
      I’ll drive mate!

      (MIKE sees his error, the steering
      wheel is on the right side of the
      car, he moves sheepishly to the left.)

      MIKE
      (getting in left side)
      Sorry.

      CABBY
      (getting in the right side of car)
      No worries mate, happens all the time. Where to?

      MIKE
      Bayshore Hotel.

      CABBY
      (driving)
      Ah! Rushcutters Bay. Nice place, stay clear of
      Kings Cross though eh? A nice bloke like you
      long on bickie notes and short of a gumtree
      climb could get his daks in a twitch with the
      spuikers there, eh?

      MIKE
      (confused)
      Is that English?

      CABBY
      Strine mate! The local colorful language! Sorry
      mate, most tourists love the lingo when they
      get here. Makes em think they got Crocodile
      Dundee as a driver then. After them two movies
      come out everyone looks for him, they get all
      slathered thinking we all dress and talk like
      him. Gotta put on the show right?
      (begins humming Waltzing Matilda)

      (Stage lights give effect of
      traveling. Time passing.)

      MIKE
      (to himself)
      The show must go on, mate…

      FADE OUT

      SCENE 5

      BAYSHORE HOTEL, RUSHCUTTERS BAY
      (A hotel lobby with elevator doors
      at stage right, a reception desk
      next to it and a pub near the left
      side. MIKE enters the hotel and
      glances nervously into the dark
      pub as he heads for the reception
      desk. TOMMY the bellman and
      RECEPTIONIST are standing behind the desk.)

      RECEPTIONIST
      (perky)
      G’day! Mr. Greene?

      MIKE
      (looks to Tommy who smiles and then to the
      receptionist)
      Yes. How’d you…

      RECEPTIONIST
      (very perky)
      Only one due till late afternoon. Welcome to
      Australia! One moment and I’ll check on your
      room.

      (RECEPTIONIST begins clacking away
      at a keyboard, TOMMY walks around
      picks up MIKE’s suitcase.)

      RECEPTIONIST (CONT’D)
      (not so perky)
      Oh dear.
      Your room won’t be ready for several minutes,
      you may wait in the lounge till then, eh?
      (looking to dark pub)
      The barmaid won’t be in just yet, but I can
      have someone whip you a brilliant bloody Mary.
      MIKE
      (edgy)
      I don’t drink.

      RECEPTIONIST
      (perky)
      Well, the seats in there are comfy anyway,
      won’t be but a flash as they finish your room.
      Tommy here’ll take your luggage up and I’ll
      fetch you when we’re ready!

      (MIKE hesitates as he looks to the
      pub, he looks to the RECEPTIONIST
      who nods with a big smile, then
      MIKE looks to TOMMY who gives him
      the same nod and smile. MIKE
      saunters off into the pub.)

      MIKE
      Okay, thanks.

      (MIKE sits in a chair and relaxes,
      as he drops off into a nap.)

      FADE OUT

      SCENE 6

      A REHAB CENTER, ONE OF MANY ALL ALIKE:

      (MIKE is talking to RIKA, in the
      group room. She is seated across
      from him and they are holding
      hands.)

      RIKA
      (looking around)
      We’re not supposed to be touching.

      MIKE
      We’re not supposed to be even in the same room.

      RIKA
      (leaning towards Mike)
      I know, but, I… I…

      THE WORLD, TELLS US LIES BUT WE’RE EXPECTED TO TELL THE TRUTH
      WE ARE ALONE IN THIS WORLD, WE ARE ALONE IN THESE PLACES
      WE HAVE TO FACE OUR DEMONS WHILE OTHERS SHOW NO REMORSE
      I’M ALONE IN A ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE WITH FAMILIAR FACES

      RECEPTIONIST (CONT’D)
      LIKE I’M IN AN OLD TIME ISOLATION BOOTH
      A DRUG IS A DRUG TO NUMB AWAY THE SOUL
      A MACHINE TO TAKE AWAY MY PAIN
      BUT I WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO BE ALIVE AND WHOLE
      I MUST FIND ME A SHELTER IN THIS RAIN
      A PATH TO FREEDOM, THE LIES THAT HURT
      TO BE SOMETHING MORE
      TO BE SOMEONE’S WORTH
      THEY SAY THAT THE JOURNEY BEGINS WITH A FIRST STEP
      BUT I’VE WALKED THOUSANDS OF MILES, TAKEN A MILLION STRIDES
      I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO STAND ALONE, NOR STAND MYSELF WITHOUT
      REGRET
      ALL WE HAVE IS EACH OTHER, BECAUSE WE UNDERSTAND OUR DISEASE
      I NEED YOU TO HELP ME, NEED YOU TO HOLD ME, PUT ME AT EASE

      RIKA (CONT’D)
      (taking Mike’s hands)
      You see Mike, I called him. He said he would
      come to family day, but he didn’t show. No one
      came for you either. I’m afraid when I leave
      here tomorrow, he won’t be there and I don’t
      know what to do. I know you feel the same. It’s
      as if we’re all alone in this world…

      MIKE
      You can always call, I’ll do everything I can
      to help you. We can get through this.

      RIKA
      (hugging Mike)

      A DRUG IS A DRUG TO NUMB AWAY THE SOUL
      A MACHINE TO TAKE AWAY MY PAIN
      BUT I WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO BE ALIVE AND WHOLE
      I MUST FIND ME A SHELTER FROM THIS RAIN
      A PATH TO FREEDOM, FROM THE LIES THAT HURT
      TO BE SOMETHING MORE
      TO BE SOMEONE’S WORTH

      (Lights fade on MIKE, RIKA sits
      alone as the set becomes her own home setting.)

      MIKE
      (narrating)
      Rika went home that next day, her boyfriend had
      left her. She took some painkillers, then she
      took matters into her own hands…
      (RIKA produces a gun and stares at
      it as the lights fade on her.

      There’s a flash and a gunshot.)

[End of Extract]


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