Useful Phones (In Case of Emergency)

Useful Phones (In Case of Emergency)

By Jessica Lusia

Translated by Manoela Wolff

Volume 6, Issue 2 (Fall 2016)

 

A POSSIBLE SYNOPSIS

Clair is a woman that calls strangers in the middle of the night. We don’t know when she lives or where, she is a habitant of nowhere, of non-time. She calls Rudolf, Phillip, Peter and Pierre to tell them clichés, which makes her sounds mysterious. Somehow she delights the boys she randomly picks out of the yellow pages. But Rudolf has a girlfriend, Anna, who is not a big fan of the girl that keeps calling her boyfriend.

In a fragmented style and absolutely un-compromised with the writing reality, Jessica Lusia conducts us in a contemporary play that somehow talks about the cruelty and individuality of the society, of the ability of becoming vulnerable, and of our difficulty to communicate. The play, written in the south of Brazil, composed in a lyrical and yet simple language, discourses about the universe of the relationships around the globe. Clair could be a woman in São Paulo, in Seoul, in Berlin, or in New York. But she has a need to say something.  Something that even she does not know what it is.

 

Jessica Lusia is a Brazilian playwright and a graduate student of Theatrical Direction at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. She was born in São Paulo and currently lives in Porto Alegre. In 2013, she worked as a playwright and a director’s assistant in the productions of: “Biografia Colecionáveis” (Collectable Biographies, free translation) and “Efeitos colaterais da falta e do excesso” (Collateral effects of lack and excess, f.t). In the same year, she won the third place in the Vianninha Award – National Competition of Texts for the Young Public (Concurso Nacional de Textos para Público Jovem), promoted by the Centro de Pesquisa de Teatro Infanto-Juvenil, for the play “Anteontem” (Before yesterday, f.t). In 2014 she was a director’s assistant in the production of “Medida Provisória” promoted by the acting course of Casa de Teatro de Porto Alegre, and composed the dramaturgy of “Amor, amor, amor” (Love, love, love, f.t) staged by Grupo Jogo de Experimentação Cênica. Winner of the 5th edition of the competition New Theatre Directors (promoted by Porto Alegres’ city hall and Goethe Institute), she staged the German play “A coisa no mar”, nominated for three categories of the Prêmio Açorianos de Teatro 2014 (Açorianos Award, f.t), including Best Director.

Manoela Wolff was born in Igrejinha/Brazil but currently lives in Porto Alegre. She has a degree in Theater – emphasis on Acting – from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and now she’s workingon her Master’s degree in Literary Theory at the Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS). She studied English during her childhood and at college she participated in a research group about the European Avant-gardes (1900-1930) and took special interest in Dadaism. She translated from English to Portuguese Tristan Tzara’s playwrights (unpublished) and two works of Nicky Silver (The food chain and Pterodactyls), staged by other college colleagues. From these experiences, she decided to study the translation process in the contemporary theater of English language, which is her research in the Masters Degree. Useful Phones (in cases of emergency) is the first complete play she has translated from Portuguese to English.

 

 

Useful Phones

Characters:

Clair

Rudolf

Anna

Peter

Phillip

Pierre

 

CLAIR:           If you knew that your heart would stop in the next second, to whom would you dedicate its last beat?

PIERRE:        How many times have you asked this question today?

 

ANNA:           Are you not going?

RUDOLF:      No…

ANNA:           Are you sure?

RUDOLF:      No…

ANNA:           I think you should.

RUDOLF:      I don’t know.

ANNA:           So at least get up to find out.

RUDOLF:      You could go there and find out.

ANNA:           But she called you. It’s your name she knows. Go there and find out.

RUDOLF:      And what if it is a trap? And what if she has a gun?

ANNA:           Rudolf, you were a boy scout. You’ll know how to get away with this. People always told me that a brilliant life should be branded by traumas. This is an opportunity of being someone really interesting! And, besides…

 

(The phone rings)

 

RUDOLF:      I don’t know if I should.

ANNA:           Pick up. Why do I always have to tell you to do the most obvious things? If a phone rings, you must answer it. If she asked for you, you go.

 

(Rudolf answers)

 

RUDOLF:      Hello?

CLAIR:           Are you coming?

RUDOLF:      Don’t know.

CLAIR:           And how will you know?

RUDOLF:      How am I going to know how to get there?

CLAIR:           I’ll tell you. First, go out.

RUDOLF:      But…

 

CLAIR:           Open to any page. Call anyone. Say anything that makes this person think a little. It didn’t matter who she was. To them it only matters who I am. It doesn’t matter that the words aren’t mine, sometimes I just get a book and read any random phrase, but they will find a reason for it. I don’t care about the nights of sleep they are going to lose. I could buy a gun and shoot any tramp in a dark alley. It would be less cruel. They won’t get any sleep. They’ll be watching the blurry world drags itself by the night. Echoes. I have as much fun as a psychopath. I don’t need to stain my hands with blood. It’s not wrong. There is no crime, nor punishment, just a discomfort, like a buzz in the ear, I’m a fly or a bee adrift, a bird seeding weed. Next (Open the Yellow Pages) P! Who is it? (With closed eyes, slides her fingers down the open page, dials the numbers on the phone) Is Phillip there? (pause) The white benumbs…

 

RUDOLF:      Here I am, sitting on a rusty bench in front of your house. Surrounded by orchids and violets. You should water your plants sometimes. I should be afraid and leave. I shouldn’t get too close. How did we get here? Why did you bring me here? I’m one step from your door and everything has the texture of your voice, these walls have your taste that is still unknown to me. What’s your name?

CLAIR:           I’m not going to tell you.

RUDOLF:      How am I going to know who you are?

CLAIR:           Don’t you already know?

 

(Silence)

 

CLAIR:           There is absolutely no shape for truth. Put it in any box and it will fit. There are no lies when the truth can be shaped. Have you ever really found something?

RUDOLF:      I lit a cigarette to postpone the answer. She just said a cliché.

RUDOLF/CLAIR:    The emptiness is full of air.

RUDOLF:      She said. Who was he?

CLAIR:           Who?

RUDOLF:      Who were you talking to when I arrived?

CLAIR:           I don’t know who it was. What do you do when you need to fill a blank space?

RUDOLF:      Me?

CLAIR:           No, not you. I’m just talking. I didn’t ask you that.

 

PHILIP:         I know, I know… It’s just that I can’t sleep again. Yes, it’s the same story. All the time I ask myself “why?” It’s been more than a week. I already said. I didn’t hang up because she said my name and I thought it was something important. She said something about white. That the white is intimidating, challenging to smudge. I’m trying to stop thinking. But let me tell you how it was. She said a lot of things… I remember little by little, I have flashes all the time. And today, like, today the clouds are like this, white. When I woke up, I looked to the sky and wished that this white darkened until it started raining.

 

RUDOLF:      Who did you call then?

CLAIR:           He never picked up again.

RUDOLF:      What happened?

CLAIR:           I don’t know. He closed all the windows, he told me he was going to. He was afraid. He seemed to be. Dropped the phone twice. Stuttered. Philip, it doesn’t matter anymore, you can’t run away. Hold your breathe a little. You’re not going to die because of this, this heavy air that lives in your lungs and makes everything meaningless. That makes everything empty. That makes your legs move without your willing them to. It isn’t my fault. Don’t blame me. You can’t stop the carbon in your veins.

RUDOLF:      Was that all?

CLAIR:           I don’t remember now, but I said something else and hung up.

RUDOLF:      What do you think happened after?

 

CLAIR:           I don’t think about it. I never think about what happens after a call ends. I just make some tea and sleep. You should leave now.

RUDOLF:      But I need to know if…

CLAIR:           You don’t need to know.

 

ANNA:           How was it?

RUDOLF:      It wasn’t a big deal.

ANNA:           How is she?

RUDOLF:      I don’t want to talk about this right now.

ANNA:           So it wasn’t a big deal, was it? Rudolf, I need you to tell me.

RUDOLF:      I’m not going to tell you.

ANNA:           I can ask her. Is this the number?

RUDOLF:      You aren’t going to do this.

ANNA:           Why wouldn’t I?

RUDOLF:      It’s necessary that the phone rings. One more dose. It’s necessary that the phone rings. The vocabulary always ends and she’ll have to use her own truths. To complete this. To not leave more blank spaces. Even if it they are indecipherable scribbles, it’s necessary that something fills this space.

ANNA:           Why wouldn’t I do this, Rudolf? Can’t you even answer me?

 

CLAIR:           Every astrologer is a necrophiliac. Leave a gulp in the bottle. For luck. When it darkens, the sky is like a recently opened cemetery. Make a wish on the first gravestone. I just need to survive a few more hours, stand the unbearable white of this self-centered moon above us. Just a few more hours. If you connect the dots you won’t go anywhere. Try! Trace a path outside your window, connect the dots, the dots up there, connect this shining dots over our heads, they don’t take us anywhere.

PETER:         What do you mean?

CLAIR:           I’m just saying. Do you see any sense in it?

PETER:         In the stars?

CLAIR:           All lifeless, but moving too fast. Good night. Don’t hang up. As uncomfortable as this is, they want to listen until the end. As if in the end there would be a way, a new way. Maybe a change. They ask questions and blindly believe in the answers. At the end of it all, everyone wants a map, for all can stray. Everybody wants something, even if it is just an impulse.

RUDOLF:      What do you mean by that?

ANNA:           I need to open this window.

RUDOLF:      Isn’t the air enough?

ANNA:           You steal it all for yourself.

RUDOLF:      Don’t open it.

ANNA:           Why not?

RUDOLF:      It’s windy.

ANNA:           No, it’s not. It’s suffocating. Can you stop being a child now? Turn off this light and come to bed.

RUDOLF:      I need all the lights turned on.

ANNA:           For what?

RUDOLF:      Then she knows I’m still here.

ANNA:           She can’t even see you from so far away. She must be sleeping with no worries now. Softly.

 

CLAIR:           I don’t even remember anymore. I don’t feel when the words pass through my throat because they are weightless. Not even my head aches. As if everything I used to think or be had become air. Evaporating. Why am I telling you this? Tell me, why do you think I’m telling you this? I don’t know. I don’t know where everything would go if I didn’t dump this in someone else’s ear. Leave me here with my loose thoughts.

 

RUDOLF:      This house has started to make too much noise after she stopped calling. It’s this emptiness, that’s what she wants me to feel. It’s this meaning that doesn’t exist. There’s nothing here besides this dead phone. I don’t exist for the rest of the world while I’m lying down on the living room sofa just to be around if she calls. I don’t sleep. I don’t move. I’m disappearing here in this room. Little by little. I want to stare at her empty look again.

 

CLAIR:           And what if you opened the door of the apartment and everything started to disappear until there’s only you and the door?

PETER:         And what if I didn’t care about this?

CLAIR:           Then you start playing. What disappears doesn’t care about you.

PETER:         Do you care?

CLAIR:           No, I’m going to disappear as fast as you turn off the phone. So will you.

PETER:         And what do I do when the day comes?

CLAIR:           Peter, the day was only a lie the sun created so we could believe we are still alive.

 

ANNA:           I’m leaving.

RUDOLF:      Why?

ANNA:           Because I can’t stand to see you like this anymore. Get away from this phone! She’s not calling you again! Or stay there and get full of dust from it! I don’t care anymore. You can do whatever you want. I already packed.

RUDOLF:      I’ll go mad!

ANNA:           It’s too late. You’ve already gone mad, Rudolf… When are you going to turn off the lights and lose the fear of her forgetting you? Maybe she already has! The game maybe ended while you took a nap. What to do now? You put away the cards, wash your face and live. I don’t want to see you like this.

 

CLAIR:           Rudolf, I need to know something.

RUDOLF:      But you said I do not need to know.

CLAIR:           I said you didn’t need, but I do. Who would I be if you didn’t come to see me?

RUDOLF:      Somebody who called me. Whispered the whole time, talked too low, I understood barely anything that you were trying to say. I don’t know what you’re talking about, I told you. I still don’t know, even with your voice becoming clearer. You leave spaces between the words.

CLAIR:           I’m not building anything.

RUDOLF:      Who would I be?

CLAIR:           I don’t know who you are, Rudolf. I don’t know anything about you. I don’t need to. Try to sleep.

RUDOLF:      Who are you?

CLAIR:           Why should I tell you something now? There are millions of people like you. Do you think you’re special? We all want to feel unique, chosen. That’s why you came here. There’s no “faith.” There are facts randomly thrown in the air. Why did you waste your time organizing it?

RUDOLF:      So why did you call me again?

(Silence)

CLAIR:           I don’t know. I don’t have answers.

RUDOLF:      You should.

CLAIR:           It doesn’t make sense. You need to understand that I could be doing any other ordinary thing. I never finish my crosswords. I never read until the end of the book. I don’t want to know the end. I won’t continue this with you.

RUDOLF:      But you do continue. I need to understand, at least a little. I need to know why you call me in the middle of the night. Me, not others. Listen, I’m not saying I’m special and that’s why you’re wasting your time with me. If there are so many numbers, why mine? What do you want?

CLAIR:           I need to sleep.

RUDOLF:      I need to see you.

CLAIR:           You’ve seen me, isn’t that enough?

RUDOLF:      No, and for you it wasn’t enough either, because if it was, you wouldn’t be calling me right now. Why can’t you sleep?

CLAIR:           Today I don’t have enough courage to face my dreams. I couldn’t even turn off the light. I never know what to do when it darkens. Maybe tomorrow I’ll know.

RUDOLF:      May I see you when the day comes and you know?

CLAIR:           You know where I am. It’s too easy to grow old seeds. You don’t need to teach them the way. They sprout all the flowers that the ground needs. They carry the experience that they haven’t lived so deeply, it is as if they have already been trees before touching the ground. I let the flowers die just to know how much they last.

PETER:         You’re cruel.

CLAIR:           It’s another way of feeling time. How many petals did you age today?

PETER:         I need to tell you something.

CLAIR:           Tell me.

PETER:         Yesterday I almost fell from the edge of the window. Almost. I think about what you meant when I pick my shoe’s colors. “You trust your luck to corpses and still think things will work out.”

CLAIR:           And what if? And what if you were one of the stars? And what if you have been dead from the beginning? You are dead, shining up above. You are this absurd being that keeps the stars nailed in the sky, exclaimed the hyperbolic lover.

 

ANNA:           Where are you going?

RUDOLF:      Out.

ANNA:           To meet her.

RUDOLF:      Weren’t you leaving?

ANNA:           I was, Rudolf. But I am really concerned about you. Where do you think it is going to take you? I’m here, I’ve always been, what do you want now? A little adventure with this crazy woman who calls in the middle of the night? Why do you need this?

RUDOLF:      Anna, I need this, why must I have an explanation?

ANNA:           In what world do you live? If you can’t explain why you need to go out, then you mustn’t go out. Or you will get lost.

RUDOLF:      Whatever!

ANNA:           I’m not going to be here when you come back.

RUDOLF:      Maybe I won’t come back. Maybe I lose myself.

 

CLAIR:           Have you waited for me too much?

RUDOLF:      No, not much.

CLAIR:           I almost never leave home; I think I unlearned how to walk on the streets. It seems that everything goes slowly, dragging itself, as if…

RUDOLF:      Have you been talking to someone else?

CLAIR:           I talk to a lot of people.

RUDOLF:      Someone special?

CLAIR:           No. You put too much sugar in the coffee, it’s going to make you sick.

RUDOLF:      I can’t drink it without it.

CLAIR:           So you don’t like coffee, you like sugar.

RUDOLF:      Maybe. Did you sleep last night?

CLAIR:           No, because it rained. I spent the whole night in the window, while the world was falling apart. I made an apple tea to see if I calmed down, but it didn’t happen. I don’t know what is going on. It’s as if suddenly I lost my umbrella during the storm. My storm. I shouldn’t be telling you this.

RUDOLF:      You’ve told me worse.

CLAIR:           But that is literature, not what I feel. I just speak, don’t even think about. Otherwise I would have the same headache you have and I would become the victim of my own… Why are you looking at me that way?

RUDOLF:      Because you’re afraid of your words and still seem confident in this fear.

CLAIR:           I know very well how to hide myself.

RUDOLF:      Why do you try so hard to do this?

CLAIR:           Because no one needs to know. It’s not interesting for anyone, you see?

RUDOLF:      And when you call what you say is?

CLAIR:           If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be interrogating me right now.

RUDOLF:      You need to stop depriving yourself from futile moments.

CLAIR:           Why would I break down all of my futilities in front of you?

RUDOLF:      Because I want to listen.

CLAIR:           I can talk about anything. Choose.

RUDOLF:      And if I choose to talk about you?

CLAIR:           I would say that it all went too far, would leave the coffee money on the table, would get up and leave.

RUDOLF:      I said. Why didn’t you do this?

 

ANNA:           I see a man with a dull face in the subway. He moves slowly, minimal gestures. Takes two stations to turn the magazine page that he browses almost unwittingly. The ads can’t cage his inaccurate eyes. He almost doesn’t breathe. The air enters unwillingly and exits impregnated by fear. I feel that there’s still something pumping inside of him, something there, unstoppable, a thought with callused hands for insisting on the same key. Maybe that’s why he seems so tired on the outside. I just watch, sitting in front of him. He doesn’t see me. I think he doesn’t see anything or almost anything surrounding him. Are you ok? I don’t ask because I’m comfortable just watching. No word during the whole trip. In the final station, he automatically gets up, doesn’t look at me, doesn’t look around. He goes towards the door with precise steps, even without a real goal. Exits.

 

CLAIR:           Philip I just called to tell you that…

RUDOLF:      Who is it?

CLAIR (hangs up):   No. No one. I was just leaving a message.

RUDOLF:      To whom?

CLAIR:           I’m in my house, I call whomever I want. I just…

RUDOLF:      Wanted to talk to someone?

CLAIR:           You need to leave, it’s getting late.

RUDOLF:      Do you want me to go now?

CLAIR:           You have to go.

RUDOLF:      No. I need you, why don’t you let me prove that you also need me?

CLAIR:           Because I really don’t need you.

RUDOLF:      You need to talk to someone. Talk to me then.

CLAIR:           You’ll never understand me.

RUDOLF:      I won’t try too hard. I’m in love with your mysteries.

CLAIR:           Please, don’t do this.

RUDOLF:      Do what?

CLAIR:           This. Liking me.

RUDOLF:      Too late.

CLAIR:           Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

RUDOLF:      I’m taking a risk to see when all this charming stands.

CLAIR:           I’m not trying to be charming. I don’t want these little games.

RUDOLF:      No?

CLAIR:           No, I don’t like it.

RUDOLF:      If you don’t like games, why are we still just talking?

CLAIR:           Are you the kind of guy that calls the next morning?

 

(Silence)

 

CLAIR:           Today he read to me all the letters he has ever received. The sweet letters, the bitter letters, the love letters, the bank letters: all of them. And he put on all his favorite songs to play, all the songs he has ever listened with someone, thinking about someone, crying for someone. He talked all the time and all the time seemed that I was actually speaking, not him. Those words could be mine, I also listened to those songs and cried, our way of comparing things is very similar. But it wasn’t me, it was him. All my loves, there, in front of me…

PETER:         And are you in love with him?

CLAIR:           No.

PETER:         So why do you sigh so much?

CLAIR:           I shouldn’t tell you this, Peter. But I looked for other things, the things I usually talk about, these philosophical wanderings, but nothing came. I’m sorry.

PETER:         I feel a little betrayed, but it’s all right.

CLAIR:           Betrayed?

PETER:         It’s like if you came back from a date, I’m waiting for you in the living room, ready for you, ready to listen to you describing in details a love that isn’t ours.

CLAIR:           We’re not a couple. And there is no “other love,” there is no love, nor a next love. I just call you and say stuff. That’s all I have to say right now. Do you want me to stop?

PETER:         No. Absolutely not.

 

ANNA:           How was your night?

RUDOLF:      You don’t need all the irony. I thought you wouldn’t be here when I arrived.

ANNA:           Was it a good night?

RUDOLF:      Stop it.

ANNA:           I just asked you one question. How is she?

RUDOLF:      You asked me once. Why didn’t you leave?

ANNA:           I was waiting for you to come back, so the house wouldn’t be empty. I love you.

RUDOLF:      I still love you too.

ANNA:           Is there much left?

RUDOLF:      Of what?

ANNA:           Of the love or whatever you STILL feel for me. Is there much left? Do I still have time to convince yourself of the stupidity of your doing? Why are you throwing all this away now?

RUDOLF:      It was you who packed.

ANNA:           Do you want me to understand this now? Do you want me to accept her, to ask her for a tea or for a movie? She doesn’t like you. I bet she does it with everyone. Then, she stops calling. Then she leaves you, just for fun. You’re not going to change it.

RUDOLF:      I want to try.

ANNA:           I feel happy for you.

RUDOLF:      You’re completely insane.

ANNA:           Rudolf, finally fighting for something. I’m not being ironic, I’m proud. Help me with the bags?

RUDOLF:      Won’t you fight for me?

ANNA:           Not today.

 

PHILIP:         I tried to sleep, but I felt the weight of your body over me. You moaned in my ear, repeated words wantonly. I shut you up with a long kiss and your phrases wrapped in saliva traveled over my body. You never finish speaking, it all gets locked in my throat. And it hurts. With the pain comes the fever. I believe in this sparkle, that’s why I stay here, shrunken in a corner of the living room, waiting for another round of the clock. I wait, I’m waiting, but I have this sparkle that dreams to be fire. It got so hot I was afraid my blood would boil. A heat that wouldn’t let me remain still. I walked whole afternoons through the city, without a destination. I can hear your voice calling me. You say my name and give me this uncontrollable urge. I know every centimeter of this town and still don’t know where you hide. Where are you? I walk, walk, in vain, looking for your face. Searching to know about you, I lose myself. I just need to hear you voice again. I want you voice turned into skin, in touch.

 

(The phone rings)

 

CLAIR:           Hello? Who is it? I know you’re there, why don’t you tell me what you want?

 

RUDOLF:      I wanted your eyes following me from the corner, before you got to your house. You spying on my steps from above your stair. I wanted you. I want you. I wanted you even more after your first “good morning” colored by sleep. I wanted you. Now, when all the sincerity pulses in an undecipherable beat, I want you to hold my shaking hands and tell me I need to sleep a little. I told you I loved you, but you had already fallen asleep.

 

CLAIR:           Me and my selfish sonnet, like this wine I open after the visitors leave. People are always wanting too much. Each one looks for a way of making life vibrate, but the world will only be ours, really ours, when we are assaulted by boldness. To not have time to think and just go. What does it mean to you to be bold?

PHILIP:         Do I need to answer?

CLAIR:           You know you don’t.

PHILIP:         I’m bold every time the phone rings and I answer, already knowing it’s you. Why do you insist so much on this?

CLAIR:           I can’t stop.

PHILIP:         Me neither. I can’t stop thinking about what you say. I don’t think about you, I don’t know you. These are just your words that keep floating through my head. You impregnate the air. I’m emboldened to stay in your game. What does it mean to be bold for you?

 

(The phone rings)

 

CLAIR:           Where are you going?

RUDOLF:      This phone doesn’t stop ringing.

CLAIR:           Leave it, come back to bed.

RUDOLF:      Won’t you answer it?

CLAIR:           No.

 

(Silence)

 

PHILLIP:      I wake up shocked and looked for your body in the sheets until the day finally brings me back to the ground. Not for long. Two seconds. Then I go back to this white and empty space you put me in. I said your name out loud repeatedly and it seemed so real that I almost believed. Hopelessly, I find myself in your unknown eyes. These eyes I invented so sweet and calm. I create the tone of your voice, your skin, your breathing. Now, suddenly, I’ve stopped looking at you as if you were really here and everything is so perfect and light that I linger looking at the you that isn’t here.

 

ANNA:           I want to rip it all off of you. Take off your costume. I had learned every word until she answered and it was just as if a white smudge took my throat and erased everything leaving the stains of what should have been said. I hang up on her so strongly that the phone fell from the cheap desk it was on and maybe doesn’t even work anymore. I’m sure I’ll never to be able to face her. I’ll not be able to face you. I say it out loud, so the walls of the apartment will hear. But you’ll never know.

 

CLAIR:           Who is it?

 

PHILLIP:      The way you throw your hair to the left, letting your hand go through your hair for a moment too long for this simple task.

 

ANNA:           Who are you?

 

PHILLIP:      You drink another gulp of scotch.

 

ANNA:           Let me only know it, just this.

PHILIP:         I see your eyes weep.

 

ANNA:           And then I will know how he feels. I need this feeling for myself, even knowing it’s nothing but fun for you. Even knowing that you don’t care. I contaminate myself with the same illusion everyone does just to have it for a moment. Any call. Make my heart beat for the same reason.

 

PHILIP:         She walks plainly with her red scarpin. Goes towards the bar, tilts over the counter, raises her forefinger so the waiter will notice her. Asks for one more drink. Wrong again. It’s not her voice.

 

CLAIR:           Where is the fun of being a passive smoker? Feel your lungs getting infected by someone else’s addiction?

PETER:         Maybe they don’t have the courage.

CLAIR:           They’ll die anyway, with or without courage. What difference does it make? People need something to fill them, something that can get them free of the emptiness. Need something besides pain. Need to feel something, need to pulse. Movement. Life is based on that. The world goes round and round because it’s used to it, just as the sun always rises because it has learned this path, as a spinning ballet dancer stuck in a music box. They don’t know how to make it differently. It doesn’t know another way of wasting its light than making us sweat so much. I can’t stand the summer and there’s nothing I can do to not feel it in my skin.

PETER:         There’s nothing I can do.

 

RUDOLF:      That’s all?

CLAIR:           I hung up.

RUDOLF:      Why?

CLAIR:           Headache.

RUDOLF:      Did you give up?

CLAIR:           On what?

RUDOLF:      This conversation?

CLAIR:           It’s not a conversation. I don’t care about the answer.

RUDOLF:      But you expect it.

CLAIR:           No.

RUDOLF:      Then why do you ask?

CLAIR:           Habit.

RUDOLF:      And can’t you change it?

CLAIR:           I’m fine this way, thank you.

RUDOLF:      It doesn’t matter to you that they are not?

CLAIR:           I’m not responsible.

RUDOLF:      Of course you are!

CLAIR:           They do what they want. I do what I want.

RUDOLF:      But every act has a consequence.

CLAIR:           It doesn’t have to. It’s all a matter of choice. I don’t suffer any consequence.

RUDOLF:      Me being in your bed isn’t a consequence of your call?

CLAIR:           No, it’s a choice. I could have stopped you in the door. You could be in Anna’s bed right now.

RUDOLF:      Who?

CLAIR:           Anna, your girlfriend.

RUDOLF:      How do you know it?

CLAIR:           If you weren’t here you would be there. Logically.

RUDOLF:      How do you know about Anna? I never told you about her.

 

(Silence)

 

PETER:         It’s impossible to run from you.

CLAIR:           Just don’t pick up.

PETER:         Now you’re over everything, it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t pick up this fucking phone. You’ll always be here.

CLAIR:           If you create an illusion of someone it’s your responsibility, not that of the object of illusion.

PETER:         Then I get addicted on it. I wake up because I have to work, pay my bills, because I’ve got to live. I wake up because I know that at some point you’re going to call. I want to be awake to hear you.

CLAIR:           And what if I stop?

PETER:         Why would you? That’s what you want, isn’t it? Everyone submerged in your wishes.

CLAIR:           I don’t want that.

PETER:         So what is all it for?

CLAIR:           He asked me and I hung up. What is all of it for? Why do you always walk on the left side of the sidewalk? Why do you bite your nails? Why don’t you ever finish your drink, always leaving a little bit at the end of the glass? Why can’t you sleep without talking to strangers for hours? I can’t think. It’s too soon for new names. I need a surprise that makes me breathe better, some unprotected ear that doesn’t know me enough to pressure me against the wall.

ANNA:           But a public phone? You gave yourself the trouble of getting a public phone number?

CLAIR:           I just passed by it and noticed. It’s that one in the corner. From my bedroom I can see who passes by there.

ANNA:           No one answers it.

CLAIR:           I also thought no one would do it.

ANNA:           I wouldn’t.

CLAIR:           He did.

ANNA:           Do you remember his name?

CLAIR:           No. I didn’t ask.

ANNA:           Why not?

CLAIR:           I don’t want to know. And I didn’t say mine.

ANNA:           Why this now?

CLAIR:           Because sometimes names screw things up.

ANNA:           I thought you didn’t care about it.

CLAIR:           Cared about names?

ANNA:           About how to screw things up.

CLAIR:           You hate me, isn’t it? Is it all just a little revenge?

ANNA:           No. I don’t understand why he is in love with you.

CLAIR:           I see someone who wants to find hope where it will never exist.

ANNA:           But you act as if it existed. And that’s what makes us get closer each time.

CLAIR:           Why did you want to see me knowing that there was only this false hope?

ANNA:           Because I know how to fool me as well as they do. But don’t you ever worry about anyone?

CLAIR:           I don’t think so.

ANNA:           Think so?

CLAIR:           Maybe… but it is more a curiosity than a concern. I just wanted to know why he doesn’t pick up the phone anymore. Where his thoughts wander… Nothing that keeps me up at night anymore.

ANNA:           Who was he?

 

PETER:         Every day, the same path. She passes by the same street mechanically, has already learned where to go, so she just goes. Every day I pass by this same street, nothing too interesting. I have seen him sometimes, nothing that jumped out. As ordinary as me, he was walking by the empty street. The street behind the coffee house was shy and deserted, too grey for tourists, too unpleasant for the rest of the city. But I used to pass by it every day, indifferent. Until one day the phone that I haven’t ever noticed rang and I tried to cross the street as fast as I could. An impulse. But he got there first, so I stopped. I stood on the other side of the street. The time between one and another answer. His face discoloring little by little. I was sure that it was her calling.

 

ANNA:           What do you want?

RUDOLF:      What have you done?

ANNA:           Why do you want to know?

RUDOLF:      You shouldn’t have done it.

ANNA:           I didn’t do anything big, Rudolf. I just called her.

RUDOLF:      That’s not how it works.

ANNA:           How does it work then?

RUDOLF:      She didn’t chose you.

ANNA:           What difference does it make? None to her.

RUDOLF:      You can’t!

ANNA:           What stops me?

RUDOLF:      Why are you doing this to me?

ANNA:           Doing this to you? Your egocentrism has reached the top. Have you been working on it?

RUDOLF:      I forbid you to see her again.

ANNA:           Do you have this power? I don’t even have to meet her, the phone is enough. You can even listen with her, by her side. Now I don’t care too. You want me to give up but you can’t get off this ship. Will you stop?

(Silence)

ANNA:           Will you? Well, so neither am I.

 

PETER:         Are you having fun?

CLAIR:           That’s not the point.

PETER:         Looks like you advanced.

CLAIR:           On what?

PETER:         On the game.

CLAIR:           I already told you, there is no game.

PETER:         You haven’t told me that. Was it you?

CLAIR:           Where?

PETER:         On the phone of the coffee house street.

CLAIR:           What?

PETER:         You called that phone.

CLAIR:           It wasn’t you who answered it.

PETER:         But I knew it was you who called.

(Silence)

CLAIR:           Do you always pass near here?

PETER:         Here?

CLAIR:           From my window I can see everything that happens in the street.

PETER:         Why are you telling me this?

CLAIR:           I just wanted to know if you were nearby.

PETER:         I pass by that street every day.

CLAIR:           Can you pass by tomorrow?

PETER:         To see you?

CLAIR:           Don’t you want to?

PETER:         You’re alone, aren’t you?

CLAIR:           Of course I am.

PETER:         Did he leave you?

CLAIR:           Rudolf? He needs to think a little, be by himself a little.

PETER:         So he left you?

CLAIR:           No.

PETER:         And you miss him, don’t you?

CLAIR:           No, that’s nothing like it. I just thought maybe you would like to…

PETER:         You didn’t think, you know, I want to see you. Why wouldn’t I?

CLAIR:           Meet me.

 

PHILLIP:      The red window. I don’t know what brought me here, but I abruptly stop in front of it. Something tells me that you… I don’t know if I can stand it.

ANNA:           You’re platonically in love with someone you invented.

RUDOLF:      I need you.

PHILLIP:      My most devastating experience of near-death was to forget you for two seconds.

ANNA:           Your face in my lap without any meaning.

PHILLIP:      What do you mean?

ANNA:           What do you want?

RUDOLF:      She falls asleep with the phone in her hands. Groping other people’s lives.

ANNA:           I have to see you.

RUDOLF:      Me too.

ANNA:           I need to end this.

RUDOLF:      It already ended.

ANNA:           No. I need to talk to you.

RUDOLF:      We are talking.

ANNA:           Not like this.

RUDOLF:      Meet me then.

ANNA:           At the same place?

RUDOLF:      The last one.

PHILLIP:      I dream about your face while I walk.

ANNA:           Don’t be late.

RUDOLF:      I’m not going.

PHILLIP:      The face I have already seen somewhere. Yell to me so I’ll be sure.

PETER:         Too close to see the whole.

CLAIR:           Just a little bit more.

PHILLIP:      I can’t anymore.

CLAIR:           I click for the first floor. But something stops me. You know that feeling you forgot something, like you left the gas open, when you feel you forgot something too important as soon as you leave your house and need to go back to be sure? I go back.

ANNA:           15 minutes.

RUDOLF:      You told her?

ANNA:           No. she doesn’t want to know.

RUDOLF:      Don’t tell.

ANNA:           Is your time over?

RUDOLF:      Like if there was an expiration date.

ANNA:           Perhaps it has.

PETER:         Why today? I can’t take my eyes off the corner.

PHILLIP:      I enter without knowing why. No thirst, no hunger.

PETER:         She said she didn’t want to stop existing.

RUDOLF:      I don’t know another way to solve this.

ANNA:           You’re scared, that’s all. Let’s go home.

RUDOLF:      No.

PETER:         No. She’s not coming. She just wanted me to keep waiting. She wants to always have someone waiting for her.

CLAIR:           It seems it’s going to rain.

PETER:         It won’t stop.

RUDOLF:      She’s coming.

ANNA:           Why?

RUDOLF:      Just a feeling.

PHILLIP:      The shaken hands don’t know what else to do.

PETER:         Why this now?

ANNA:           It seems like everyone here doesn’t sleep in ages.

RUDOLF:      I need to.

CLAIR:           I can’t be without…

PETER:         No.

PHILLIP:      The last impulse.

ANNA:           No.

RUDOLF:      That’s what she wants.

 

(A shot. The phone rings.)

CLAIR:           Everything is a great illusion because you only have one point of view. And you’ll never know what truly is, because you’re addicted to the things you know, that usually aren’t real. This is my addicted view as well, and I don’t fit in the world either. Even if I try to put it out. The air passes spreading chaos, we don’t even need to touch to destroy. There is someone to do it for us. After I said that, he kept himself in silence for an agonizing time.

PIERRE:        Who did you tell this to?

 

 

 

 

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