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: 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.
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?
74: (to the wallpaper removalist) Is it yours?
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?
65: You’re sure you don’t want help?
74: All good.
65: Will I … will I see you again?
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.
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.