Monday 20 May – Afterthoughtful

by Ben Ellis

Outside. Night. A big open outdoor part of a pub. Shell is getting ready to leave. Ger approaches Shell

GER   You can’t be serious

SHELL  Did somebody hit you?

GER   My tear duct got infected. You must be happy about that

SHELL  Just let me go home

GER   You have a problem. You’re so stupid. You’re dumb. You’re ignorant. I’ve just got to accept it. But I can’t. You’re pathetic. My intelligence scares you. My consideration for others less fortunate just makes you sick, running away to your cancelled Footy Shows and stupid reality TV. Fuck you and your Foxtel and your fucked NBN and your utes. You’re sick. You make me sick. Why won’t you fuck me? Why the fuck won’t you fuck me?

SHELL   I think that might be the worst pick up routine I’ve ever heard

GER Okay

SHELL And your point is?

GER I’m speechless

SHELL You reckon?

Sunday 19 May – How Many Happy Endings Did You Get?

by Emilie Collyer

It’s a motel room, the morning after an intense marathon sex session between two people – 74 and 65. They can be any gender, sexual orientation, with any variety of genitals, any age, skin colour, they might disabled they might be deaf, or not. All I’m saying is – they could be anyone. 74 is probably wearing blue and 65 is probably wearing red.

They are exhausted, post-coital, chatting in that gooey, dreamy way.

They are half-watching the Eurovision song contest final live voting on a television in the room.

Behind or around them, a person is stripping the room of a bright, garish yellow wallpaper.

74:    74. Phwoar. Seventy-bloody four.

65:    You were counting?

74:    Course I was! Yours too.

65:    How can you tell? You can’t tell. That’s bullshit.

74:    65.

65:    Fuck.

74:    Ha! I’m right aren’t I! I can always tell. It’s the shudder that gives it away. You’ve got a sweet little shudder. Every time. Don’t tell me you weren’t counting. Everybody counts.

    (the television) Ah damn it. Ninth. Weird song I guess. Still, she’s got a set of pipes. Haha Iceland’s holding up a Palestine banner, good on ya Iceland, stir the pot.

65:    Oh yeah, I mean should the competition be held there? Really?

74:    They had an inclusive act perform at one of the semi-finals.

65:    Inclusive?

74:    Blind singers. Couple of performers with Down Syndrome. A guy signing. Israel totally going: ‘Look at us! Great human rights! Awesome! Nothing to worry about!’ Laughs. Keeps watching. Sweden … The Netherlands …

65:    Sweden will win. Don’t they always win?

74:    They won the judge’s votes. But the popular ones are make or break … here we go. The Netherlands is in front … Sweden need 253 audience votes to win … 90! Only 90. Jeez – did you see his face? Poor fella. He thought they were in. You just never can tell with the public though, right? Maybe Europe’s not ready for a black Eurovision winner.

65:    You think he got a lower popular vote because he’s a person of colour? Surely there’s been⎯hasn’t there?

74:    Dunno. Maybe once? Bloody mystery how and why people vote for anything. Whatever makes sense to them, has a personal meaning, ticks a box they need. Anyway, another bland song by a nice-looking white dude won so that’s that. For another year.

65:    I really wouldn’t have picked you for someone who was into Eurovision.

74:    I like anything competitive. Beat. 74. Just saying.

65:    So, last night was a competition?

74:    Well I hope you had a good time. I reckon you did. Shudder! But if I come out on top, I come out on top, that’s all right with me. To be honest wouldn’t have minded a few more. 74’s about the same as last time I had a serious session. But consistency’s good. And I felt every one. Phwoar.

65:    Yeah well … I go a little slower. But um … you know, they’re all good. They all still feel good.

    Beat.(about the wallpaper remover) Do they have to be doing that now?

74:    I asked them to. It was nice enough, the yellow. Eye-catching – served its purpose. Got us through the night. But that’s enough.

We hear human sounds from another room: panting, gentle crying, slightly unsatisfying orgasms.

65:    What the⎯?

74:    Yeah, walls are a bit thin here.

65:    Are they⎯?

74:    Yeah. You wouldn’t know it though would you. Sounds like a handful of mourning cats. Ah well. Not everyone can get there, right?

65:    Would they have⎯?

74:    Oh for sure. Walls are thin both ways. Poor sods. Listening to us at it all night. Bang! Bang! Bang! While they’re all like (makes a little moaning, whimpering noise with a tiny exclamation at the end. Laughs).

We can still hear the sound but now it sounds closer and more like actual crying. In fact, like a baby crying. And it’s not coming from another room. It’s in the room with them. It was tucked in behind the wallpaper but now it’s right there.

65:    Oh my god … is that a …? It is. There’s a … there’s a baby in here.

74:    What the fuck? Is it yours?

65:    No.

74:    (to the wallpaper removalist) Is it yours?

It’s not.

74:    Fuck me.

The baby is crying, whimpering, should they pick it up, console it? Does it need feeding? They look at the baby. At a particular angle, the baby might look like a business tycoon from Queensland. But then, look again, it’s just a regular baby.

74:    Ugly little bugger.

65:    You can’t say that.

74:    Why not? Spade’s a spade.

65:    Well it is a little … strange looking. But that’s not its fault.

The baby is crying louder now, almost screaming. It’s upset. It needs attending to.

74:    Jesus, talking about a set of pipes.

65:    Should we … ? I mean parents get weird when you touch their children …

74:    Bugger it.

74 picks the baby up. It doesn’t really settle. It is still distressed. But a change comes over 74, suddenly smitten.

74:    Well fuck me. Look at you, ya little bugger! Just look at you. Ya need someone to look after you don’t ya? I tell you what, I’ve always believed in miracles, and this right here is a bloody miracle.

65:    You’re not going to keep it?

74:    Why the hell not? Like I said, it’s a bloody miracle. Right here, all red-faced and screaming.

65:    But what if its parents come back …

74:    Shouldn’t have left it.

65:    Okay. Beat. But I was here too. If it belongs to anyone, shouldn’t we share it?

74:    Did you pick it up? Did you pick this screaming, miserable little bundle of joy up? First in best dressed when it comes to bloody miracles. Good thing I got them to strip that yellow wallpaper isn’t it ya little bugger. Isn’t it! Otherwise you might have died right there in the wall!

65:    Well. I’ll help. All right? You’ll need help. You can’t raise a kid on your own. It needs education. A healthy upbringing. And the climate, you know, it’s a precarious time to be⎯

74:    All right settle down! That’s a lot of big ideas for just raising a kid. Financial security’s what this little tacker needs. I can give ‘em that. You know what, if you have a go, you get a go, that’s what I’ve always said. I’m bloody up for it. I’m up for it all right. Beat. Right. This was fun.

74 gets ready to leave, still holding and bouncing the little, ugly crying baby.

65:    You don’t want to get breakfast?

74:    Nah.

65:    You’re sure you don’t want help?

74:    All good.

65:    Will I … will I see you again?

74:    Dunno.

65:    Call any time. If you want to hook up again. Or if you need … it’s a big thing, raising a kid on your own.

74:    Yep.

74 exits.

The wallpaper remover finishes their job and they also exit, leaving swathes of yellow paper in the room.

65:    Hey! Hey you can’t leave this here! You’ve got to tidy up properly. Beat. Shit.

From the other rooms all is now silent.

65 looks at the pile of wallpaper. Maybe there will be another baby underneath it all? A miracle for them? Probably not but it’s worth looking, and someone has to clean up this mess. They start going through it, searching, tidying.

65:    Seventy bloody four. Selfish arsehole.

They keep searching, tidying.

THE END.

Saturday 18 May (3) – Scavenging

An old white woman sits at a table. Her clothes are faded, a once-good suit. Exhausted, frail. Her hair is wispy: Grandmother.

A younger woman, a teenager, in a hoodie, jeans and sneakers, brings her a cup of tea, places it on the table: Granddaughter.

The Granddaughter walks to the corner and sits in a chair there. She stretches and looks off into the distance – like she is keeping watch. She rarely looks directly at the Grandmother.

Under all this, and for the rest of the scene, the sound of occasional beeps, the sound of the the tide.

GRANDDAUGHTER
I got it from the throat. I got it from the throat this time, hey. I barely took a look at the head. Big eyes, little fur.

GRANDMOTHER
Little fur?

GRANDDAUGHTER
Not much. And not plump.

GRANDMOTHER
Shame. That’s a shame.

She takes a sip of the tea, slowly.

Thank you. It’s very nice.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Temperature good?

GRANDMOTHER
Yes. Yes.

You’re very good at getting it just right.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Thanks.

GRANDMOTHER
This was your grandfather’s main complaint, you know, when we went anywhere – a restaurant or anything, a cafe, the temperature had to be piping hot. Or he’d send it back.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Oh right. Yeah.

GRANDMOTHER
Just always knew what he wanted. One of those people.

A sip.

Yes.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Had three eyes.

GRANDMOTHER
What?

GRANDDAUGHTER
Pretty sure. It had three eyes.

GRANDMOTHER
Oh.

That’s odd.

GRANDDAUGHTER
No. I’m lying. Sorry.

GRANDMOTHER
Oh.

GRANDDAUGHTER
It was blind. They’re all kind of blind now, I feel.. More and more. So it was easy. Didn’t even see me coming actually, hey.

GRANDMOTHER
Be careful.

GRANDDAUGHTER
But like the hearing’s actually heightened, so it’s still a bit of a challenge. But overall, easier to creep on.

GRANDMOTHER
That’s good. That’s very good. That’s very good.

Granddaughter starts to put on a pair of shoes that have been under her chair – thick boots, but faded, peeling. She’s doing the laces up with a studied energy.

GRANDMOTHER
Will you be away for long this time?

GRANDDAUGHTER
Nah, not too long. But Jaime’s found a new centre up north, bout a day off, big one too – don’t know how it’s taken so long to find actually. Got a Target and a food court and everything.

GRANDMOTHER
Empty?

GRANDDAUGHTER
Yeah obviously. But should be a good party. There was a bouncy castle in the old photos – I mean, it’s definitely gone but who knows. Loved when we inflated the one last time.

She is nearly done lacing up her shoes.

GRANDMOTHER
Your mum loved that sort of thing too.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Yeah. Yeah.

GRANDMOTHER
And the jumping, the bungee.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Yeah, sick.

Yeah, I know.

She finishes doing the boots and gets up.

GRANDMOTHER
Loved the mountains.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Alright. Well I’m off now. Take care.

She walks over and kisses Grandmother on the head.

GRANDMOTHER
Loved being high up. In the mountains. She did.

GRANDDAUGHTER
Yeah. That’s nice. Okay, I’m just going to toss it in when I go outside ok.

GRANDMOTHER
Okay.

Granddaughter exits.

Grandmother stares out. Alone in the room.

A gooey bundle of meat slides or is thrown from off stage – lands near the grandmother.

GRANDMOTHER
Loved the way altitude made her ears pop.

The grandmother picks up the meat with effort – it’s a bit heavy for her – and places it on the table. She’ll have to cook and brine it. She stares at it., and talks to it. Every sentence for the rest of the scene is un-rushed – each line has its weight, like she is remembering.

GRANDMOTHER
Loved the clouds. Loved the way they thicken and then disperse unexpectedly when you’re high up in the air. She did. She did.

She starts to separate the chunks.

GRANDMOTHER
Loved the ash clouds too – yellow and black and pink, didn’t matter. Just the sight of it everytime.

And the lack of them too.

She is exacting with the meat. She has done this many times before.

Loved talking late at night and waiting till sun broke.
Even when she should have been in bed.

Loved watching things in bed. Loved the documentaries.

How could one person be so curious?

She looks up but her hands keep working.

Loved eating basil but could never grow it herself.

Loved cooking but was a terrible. A terrible one.

Loved the album 1989, this I remember, and the year 1989, that I remember too. The year.

Loved the word mezzanine and loved the time we went to Disney World. I didn’t like the rides.

Loved birds. Cockatoos.

Loved ironing, creases into straight lines. The application of heat.

Loved heat. Loved sweating.

Loved going to work and having time to stop for a croissant. Loved being late and no one noticing. Loved being late and everyone noticing.

Loved how soft the blankets were. Loved discussing ducks and geese. Loved that time a geese bit me, bit her.

Loved the smell of a petrol station and late at night the signs glowing as we drove home.

Loved our garden gnomes.

Loved the statues in the park next to our house. How they were creepy sometimes but also angelic and also had been there forever, it felt like. It felt like that.

Loved pikachu. Loved coats. Loved rain. Loved my sister. Loved the wind. Loved handbags with alligator skin patterns.

She gets a bowl out from under the table and tosses the chunks in. She stands over the table, hands leaning on it to prop her up – this is taking all her strength.

Loved not knowing anything about sport but getting very angry. Very angry at the important games.

Loved the ocean and the stink of fish.
And loved ice-cream.
And loved teeth chattering after a cold drink. And loved the light. Loved him. Loved them.

She closes her eyes.

The show on tv. Not the funny one, the other one. You know, the other one?

It was good too.

LIGHTS OUT.

Saturday 18 May night – The Promise of Australia

by Ross Mueller

(11pm on Saturday night. A and B drinking beer and eating pizza and watching the football replay)

A The good news is; we don’t have to pay Labor’s Death Tax and we don’t have to pay Labor’s Housing Tax and we don’t have to pay Labor’s Retiree Taxes! That’s good. It’s gonna save me a fortune.
B How much?
A And guess what? We still get very fast train, the East West Link, we don’t have to pay child care workers any more and we don’t have to pay any more fucken penalty rates. That’s good. And we get Adani. Cheper power prices, we get to keep our utes and we get a Surplus.
B But there’s still five million votes to be counted.
A Fuck that. The agenda that Scott Morrison presented has been accepted by the electorate. Hallelujah.
B What policy agenda?
A Mate. This is the Promise. The Promise of Australia. We are back in the Black, baby. Back in the black, face it. Tax cuts for everybody!
(beat – watching the game)
B Good mark.
A Good mark.
B Strong above his shoulders.
A Another beer?
B Great.
(A looks in the fridge)
A None left.
B You said you brought a slab.
A Yeah – but that’s what you wanted me to tell you.
B So you lied to me.
A No.
B But you’ve got nothin’…
(beat)
A Holy shit!! Look over there!
(B looks away and A smothers B with a pizza box. B is dead. A watches the footy and munches pizza. Drinks B’s beer.)

Saturday 18 May afternoon – Sydney Domestic

by Ross Mueller

A BAR AT 1.54PM
(A, B & C are separate, but drinking schooners. A TV is playing ABC 24, Peter Dutton is on the screen talking, but muted. Easy listening R & B is in the background. A is on lap top, B is playing Snake on the phone, C is staring out on to the tarmac. A gets a text message. Checks phone. They ignore each other. A makes a phone call)
A Yeah. Delayed…. Nah the weather’s perfect. I dunno. An hour at least. Yeah… Not my fault… Not my fault…. Yeah not my…
You too.
(Hangs up. B is watching A… A looks at B)

B (as explanation) Snake… “Snake”. You ever play it?
(They watch Dutton with the music in the background)
C I just hope we get this one right. For the next generation.
B For this generation.
C But our children’s, children…
B For us.
C Yeah, but I just came in from Beijing and mate…
(pause)
A Gone to sleep.
C It’s Blade Runner. It’s fucken Blade Runner over there.

Continue reading “Saturday 18 May afternoon – Sydney Domestic”

Friday 17 May – Calling

by Emilie Collyer

It’s night time. It’s an office that is also a polling booth. It’s a telephone exchange that is also a transit room for the afterlife.

The voices we hear should have a range of accents and even languages.

A telephone rings. It clicks into answer mode. We hear the person at the other end.

VOICE: Hello? Hello? Is anyone there or is this a message bank? Hello! I’m calling from Manus Island and I wanted

The message is cut off.

A person enters the room wheeling a large trolley full of sausages that they arrange and leave. The person exits.

The telephone rings again. Same as before, we hear:

VOICE: Hi I don’t know if anyone will hear this but I’m calling from Don Dale, look I need

The message is cut off.

The person enters the room this time with a container of sharpened pencils that they leave. They exit.

The telephone rings again. Same as before, we hear:

VOICE: I’m calling from Swanston Street, in Melbourne, it’s so cold tonight, and I’m trying to

The message is cut off.

The person enters the room this time with a packet of balloons. They blow one up. They look at the packet and blow another one up. They look at the packet. They are not going to blow them all up. This is not what they get paid to do. They exit.

The telephone rings again. Same as before, we hear a voice leaving a message. This time there are a few in a row, each cutting off the one before them.

VOICE: Hello, I’m calling from Bandyup Women’s Prison and I

VOICE: I’m calling from a holding cell

VOICE: I’m calling about a parking fine

VOICE: I’m alone in a watch house

VOICE: about my NDIS package

VOICE: I think my unemployment benefits were

VOICE: oh I’m, I’m not well, I’m in a detention centre and I

The message is cut off.

The person enters the room this time with some tiny flags. They are probably flags of Australia. They arrange them and leave.

The telephone rings again. Same as before, we hear a few in a row, each cutting off the one before them.

VOICE: Hello? Hello. I’m calling about a Treaty, I heard that maybe

VOICE: I’m calling about the Uluru Statement from the Heart

VOICE: about the Barunga Statement.

An old man with thick silver hair enters. He does not have anything with him. He pauses and listens. The same voice we just heard keeps speaking.

VOICE: Hello? Like I was saying, I wanted to have a word with someone in there about the Burunga Statement. I know it was a few years back now but there’s a lot in there that hasn’t been addressed yet and I thought, well …

The silver-haired man hesitates, but does not pick up the phone. It’s not his job. He’s done all he can. Has he? At any rate, his time is over. He exits through a different door.

VOICE: … well if someone could get onto it, I’ve … we’ve been on hold for a long time, for

The message is cut off.

The person enters the room. They might have a sense of disturbance, of the presence of the silver-haired man or the echo of the unanswered messages on the telephone. But there is nothing much else they can do.

The room is in order for the next day’s activities. They turn off the lights and leave.

Sound of a telephone ringing.

THE END

Thursday 16 May

by Keziah Warner

Sara and Annie in the office, 10.30am. Two women in their 70s are sat on chairs against the wall. There is a plate of biscuits on the floor in front of them. They are not eating the biscuits. Sara has her back to the women.

SARA: Are you feeling good?

ANNIE: Definitely.

SARA: I’m feeling really good.

ANNIE: Great.

SARA: It’s close.

ANNIE: Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.

SARA: I mean in time. Close in time.

Continue reading “Thursday 16 May”