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Reversals by Jessica Maybury

Reversals by Jessica Maybury

Drama, Vol. 4.1, March 2010

THOMAS, a college student, twenty years old.

EVIE, his lover, thirty-eight years old.

MR PARSONS, a detective, fifty-three years old.

The action takes place over the course of a few hours, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Settings are a bathroom in Thomas’s memory (in the mid-morning), and in a Police HQ interrogation room, in the present (the mid-afternoon).

NOTE: The character of THOMAS should be played by two actors, one playing his mid-morning self, denoted in the text by a [1] following his name, and one playing his present self in the interrogation room, denoted by a [2] following his name.

Darkness, and the sound of a tape recorder being turned on by MR PARSONS. Lights come up on a dirty bathroom and an interview room. Lights in the bathroom are blue and dim; it is a memory. Lights in the interview room are harshly bright. Exit on right through a door from the bathroom to the interview room. There is a door off the interview room. In the centre of the bathroom is an old-fashioned bathtub with clawed feet, in which lies EVIE. She is a woman in her late thirties with bleached blonde hair stuck to her head, and dressed in a nightdress. She is doused in blood as though grievously injured, and has a black eye. THOMAS [1] stands by the bottom of the bathtub. He is younger, barely out of his teens, in sleeping attire and highly agitated. In the interview room there is MR PARSONS, a police officer and THOMAS [2], looking decidedly worse for wear.

MR PARSONS: Why not just tell me the whole thing from the beginning, OK? [He offers THOMAS [2] a cigarette and THOMAS [2] takes it, lighting up with difficulty as his hands are shaking badly]. Just take your time.

EVIE: All right.

THOMAS [1]: I knew you’d agree with me eventually.

EVIE: Yes. [She begins to sob uncontrollably in a paroxysm of hysteria, tearing at her hair. It is then that we see that she is manacled to the taps of the bath by her wrists. ] I’ve been in here so long…Thomas…the water – I don’t even know how long it’s been.

THOMAS [1] picks the glass of water and packet of sedatives from the ground. He puts a pill in her mouth and holds the glass to her lips. She drinks willingly, gladly. He strokes her hair, taking a sedative then himself.

Thank you.

THOMAS [1]: Only a couple of hours now, don’t be so melodramatic.

MR PARSONS: You sedated her?

THOMAS [2]: I had to.

EVIE: OK. OK. OK. Just let me out.

THOMAS [1]: I will. We need to be calm.

THOMAS [2] begins to cry.

It’s difficult.

THOMAS [2]: No man will love her as I have loved her, Detective. Still, though, I’m glad your men came so quickly. I would have gone out of my mind there on my own…there with – with her like that.

THOMAS [1] [panicky, more to himself than to her]:

Everything will be OK. [laughing hysterically] Just peachy!

EVIE [drily]: Oh Jesus, you’re going insane.

THOMAS [1]: No! No. [begins to get ahold of himself] I’m not. OK? [rapidlychanging the subject:] Remember the first day I saw you? In Merrion Square? It was the one nice day of the summer, Evie, do you remember?

MR PARSONS: July 23rd, 2006.

THOMAS [2]: I keep thinking about that day. I made her laugh so hard, the ice-cream came out of her nose. I have that image in my head, like, like a picture, you know? Another time we were waiting for the train, and it was dark. We were standing in the station, looking out the window at the tracks. I turned to look at her while she was talking and I thought, my God, my God she’s the most…the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

THOMAS [1]: Good. We have to hang on to the good things.

EVIE [sarcastic]: Ha. Good luck there, Kid.

THOMAS [2]: I thought that if I could just be near to her, close to her, every day, that if I could just be around her…I’d be grateful for my entire life. [Pause.] I still don’t know where I got the idea for the chain from.

THOMAS [1] [wandering over to the mirror to fix his tie]:

Probably Dave.

MR PARSONS: Dave?

THOMAS [2]: This guy on MSN.

THOMAS [1] & THOMAS [2] [in unison]:

That idiot.

THOMAS [2]: I should never have told him. I’m not a man accustomed to tying ladies up in bathtubs.

EVIE: You think this is OK, don’t you? [sighs] You think we can just gloss things over and move on like it never happened, right?

THOMAS [1]: What?

EVIE: I must admit, when I woke up in this tub, I thought, ‘whoa, he’s finally grown some balls!’ But I mean clearly, Thomas. I mean, [laughing] look at you. Square up and be a man for God’s sake!

THOMAS [1] [ignoring her]:

I wanted to make everything better! I wanted to save this thing between us!

MR PARSONS: Save it?

THOMAS [2]: If I could keep her in one place for a long enough time…Ah, Jesus. I dunno. Well I loved her, you know?

MR PARSONS: Even after what happened?

THOMAS [2]: You can’t just shut feelings off when they’re no longer convenient.

THOMAS [1]: This thing – that you have ruined.

EVIE: People aren’t like glass, Thomas. They don’t make glue for this sort of thing.

THOMAS [1]: I’m not a quitter.

EVIE: Kid, I’m telling you, it’s screwed. Let me out, and get over it.

MR PARSONS: Go back to the beginning.

EVIE [robotically]: I remember being glad it wasn’t wet. OK? The day we met, it wasn’t raining and I was happy. You were reading a book – ha! – I just remembered! It was on water cures! Ha! Oh, oh Thomas? I have a question? Were you only taken to me because I didn’t care that your hair was falling out? You seemed even younger in the streetlamps, you know. Thinner, less bald.

THOMAS [1]: Baldness can be attractive –

EVIE: In the right kind of man.

THOMAS [1]: It’s hereditary!

EVIE: I thought you were the right kind of man.

THOMAS [1] [swinging around as though it is vitally important for his words to be understood]: You should know that I had no idea –

EVIE: Of?

THOMAS [2]: I had no idea that this was how it would end up.

MR PARSONS: You’re quite safe here.

THOMAS [2]: I’m still glad I called the Guards. I’m glad. Everything can be over now. I don’t care what happens next.

EVIE [again robotically as though parroting]:

I thought you were nice. You were – what a cliché this is – you were gentle. You didn’t know enough not to be. Ha! [Pause.] In the side pocket of your overcoat, I found all the Mass cards from all the funerals that you had ever attended. There weren’t many. I spent an afternoon in your shithole flat…in that warehouse in the middle of nowhere…poring over them again and again. I snuck in. I would go in during my lunch break to smell you on your bathrobe. I would take off my shoes and walk around in just my feet.

THOMAS [2]: Her skin on my floorboards?

MR PARSONS: We can get that confirmed.

EVIE [yawning and trying to prop herself up with her elbows on the side of the tub]:

I don’t see how my telling the story again will make us any better. You know that I didn’t find you attractive in the beginning. Not really. Obviously I did, a little; a woman my age has to take what she can get. But no, you weren’t immediately attractive to me.

THOMAS [1]: Maybe you loved me?

EVIE: No, that’s not it.

They stare at each other for a moment, THOMAS [1] with a quiet desperation, EVIE with steely determination. Eventually he coughs. She rests her head on the lip of the bathtub and stares at the ceiling.

MR PARSONS: Again, about the part where you attacked Mrs Reeves.

THOMAS [2]: She wouldn’t leave me alone.

EVIE: You frightened me.

THOMAS [1]: You’re a liar.

THOMAS [2] [gettingincreasinglyupset]:

I just got really freaked out – and then – then that night –

MR PARSONS: September the 18 th?

THOMAS [2] [crying]:

Yeah. I wanted to end it.

MR PARSONS: Understandably. [He offers another cigarette, lighting it for THOMAS [2]. Pause.] You were emotionally traumatised.

THOMAS [2]: No. [struggling to calm himself] I mean yes. Yeah, I can go on. I can do this. I don’t wanna stop. She wouldn’t leave me alone. She kept calling. If I didn’t answer she’d go crazy and demand to know where I’d been. She’d want to know what people I was with when I went out at night. She wanted to know where my parents lived. I asked Dave what I should do. I asked him what I should say, what people say to finish it up. But…God, I don’t know why I asked him. By then I wasn’t so sure it was such a good idea in the first place. Maybe I’d never find anyone else. I never felt more alive than when I was with her. Even when we were fighting, it was exhilarating. [Pause.] I was so worried that she would never wake up.

MR PARSONS [checking his notes]:

After you knocked Evelyn Reeves unconscious with a wine bottle to the base of the skull on September the 18 th?

THOMAS [2]: Yes. I had to do it. You understand, don’t you?

MR PARSONS: Self defence.

EVIE: You bought me a ring. Remember? I thought it was diamonds but now I know it’s not.

THOMAS [1]: You are beautiful.

EVIE: Is that why you tied me up in here?

THOMAS [1]: You know why I tied you up.

MR PARSONS: Was it because you were afraid?

THOMAS [2]: I was a lot of things.

EVIE: Oh, you knew what you were doing, all right. Don’t try and fob yourself off on me. It was a dirty trick. You’re a mind-fuck, that’s what you are.

THOMAS [1]: Shut up! Just shut up!

EVIE: What are you gonna do if I don’t?

THOMAS [1] sits down heavily on the toilet lid, head in hands. EVIE continues relentlessly:

Did I hurt you? Did I? I hope I did. I hope tore your insides up. I hope you can never have sex again without it hurting, without you thinking of me. Do you remember the dress, Thomas, the one you bought me? It was pink and satin, remember? I kept it, in case, as time went on, you know how these things go, I kept it, in case I needed to wear it for you to want me again. You wanted me all sexed up, then, in those days! Remember Thomas! You couldn’t believe your luck, could you! What is it, Thomas? Did you get bored of me?

THOMAS [2]: She had come to my place, wandering again. She wandered. She should have been in work. She used to come over all the time.

MR PARSONS: How often?

THOMAS [2]: I don’t have any proof of anything.

MR PARSONS: Give me an estimate.

THOMAS [2]: Two, three times a week maybe.

MR PARSONS: We can check the CCTV in the Spar opposite the door to your complex.

THOMAS [2]: It was like she’d replaced my need for air with something else. I felt I hadn’t been alive until her. I’m not a desperate man. Understand?

MR PARSONS [soothingly]:

I know you’re not.

EVIE: No man will ever love me as you have loved me. Frankly I was a little freaked out. With good reason, I suppose.

THOMAS [1]: Liar.

EVIE: You actually need me in control, don’t you, Kid? Now you’ve tied me up in here like something in your books, you’ve no idea what to do.

THOMAS [1]: I’m going to call the police.

EVIE [giggling]: You should’ve done that hours ago. A crime’s not a crime unless there’s a reaction.

THOMAS [1] [retorting, illogically]:

Stop. Fucking. Taunting. Me with your fucking mindrot shit!

EVIE: Oh yeah baby. Mmm it just makes me so hot all over. You horny little fuck.

THOMAS [1]: I’m not that little.

EVIE: I’ve had better than you. You’re not such the big man. You coward. Look what you’ve done to me. Tied up in here. You freakshow. You could’ve just locked me into the bedroom.

THOMAS [1]: Look what you’ve done to me.

THOMAS [1] moves swiftly across the stage and backhands her across the face.

THOMAS [2]: In the park, the streetlights made her hair gleam like something from science fiction. She was unreal in the park at night. She wanted to be outside. She said Stephen’s Green was like being in Clare at night time. I don’t know. I’ve never been to Clare. I’d give her a boost to help her over the railings, into the darkness. Just us and the junkies. I came home from work, and there she was, as I had expected. Hiding.

MR PARSONS: Is it then you attacked her?

THOMAS [2]: No. I didn’t attack her until after the…after the um…

MR PARSONS: After she raped you.

THOMAS [2] coughs, embarrassed and highly uncomfortable.

THOMAS [2] [finally]:

Yes, sir, that’s right.

THOMAS [1]: I do love you. [Pause.] You seem upset.

EVIE: You hurt my face.

THOMAS [1][placating her]:

Maybe you can come out now.

EVIE: I would like that, please.

He nods at her, moving to the foot of the bath. He unclasps the chains with a key from his pocket. They fall heavily into the water. He helps her up, slowly, as she is stiff from the long time spent in one position.

Thank you.

THOMAS [1] helps her from the water. She stands carefully on the tiles, first one foot, then another.

Thank you.

THOMAS [1]: You’re welcome. I’ll get some towels.

THOMAS [1] exits from the bathroom through the door on right, into the interviewing room. THOMAS [2] watches him. THOMAS [1] goes to the door in the interview room and opens it to reveal an airing cupboard. He takes down some towels and a bathrobe, and goes back into the bathroom.

EVIE: I don’t know why I’m still here.

MR PARSONS: Because you’re chained up in the bathtub.

EVIE [to THOMAS]:

Maybe I do love you.

THOMAS [1] strips off the wet nightdress, wiping her down gently with the towel, and then dresses her in the dressing gown. EVIE stares blankly out at the audience, like a doll. THOMAS [1] produces a hairbrush and begins to comb her hair. MR PARSONS stands up and enters the bathroom gravely. EVIE, terrified, begins to back away, slips and falls over, lying on the floor as though dead. THOMAS [1] stares at her.

MR PARSONS: Thomas Mason?

THOMAS [1] [still staring at EVIE’s body]:

Yes sir.

MR PARSONS snaps on a pair of surgical latex gloves that he has removed from his pocket. THOMAS [2] enters with a camera taken from the linen press, and begins photographing EVIE’s lifeless body. MR PARSONS gestures to THOMAS [2], and then produces a notebook and begins taking notes:

MR PARSONS: You are under arrest for the murder of Evelyn Reeves. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something that you later rely on in court. Anything you do or say may be given in evidence.

As THOMAS [1] is being read his rights, THOMAS [2] dusts himself off, places the camera on the tiles and silently handcuffs THOMAS [1].

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