by Frank Moher
| ||(In the dark, a soundscape of extreme
weather, starting low and building:
rain, winds, fire, a few interspersed
radio reports on flooding, heat waves,
droughts. It crescendos with a
thunderclap, as a light picks out PETER.)
Weather. The weather. Everybody says the weather's going crazy these days. But nobody does anything about it. Well, I knew somebody who did something about it. Or . . . tried to. This, as they say, is his story.
| ||(CHRIS, in his basement suite,
sits at a table intently shredding
a styrofoam cup. He places the
pieces in a bowl containing other
shards of styrofoam. Once the cup's
gone, he scoops some shards out of
the bowl and holds them high in the
air. He lets them flutter to the table.
PETER enters from the kitchen,
carrying a box. He watches as CHRIS
once again scoops up some styrofoam
pieces and this time lets them fall
to the floor.)
This, I take it, is some kind of strange housewarming ritual?
It's an experiment.
An experiment. Ah.
I've tried it with paper and cotton balls. But I think this going to be the best.
| ||(Regarding the crap on the floor.)|
I'll clean it up.
Hey, it's your place. You're twenty-five. Old enough to do whatever you want with -- consenting styrofoam cups.
This is my son, Chris. He has schizophrenia. You're in for a number of surprises this evening, so I thought I'd get that one out of the way early. He's just moved into this place. If you could see it, you'd see --
| ||(CHRIS smiles, begins to pick up the
pieces. PETER turns to us.)
Green walls, brown linoleum, bad painting of a ship in a storm. Down in the basement. The kind of mother-in-law suite you wouldn't keep your mother-in-law in.
So. You think you'll be happy here?
Am I supposed to be happy here?
Well, I'd rather you were happy than abjectly miserable.
It'll do. It's all right. I'd rather you'd checked me into the Pan Pacific, but as long as it's just for six months . . .
At least it's clean.
That is when "Water's Edge" is opening, right? In November?
That's the idea.
It better. That's when it starts raining for real and people can't sleep outside. Mind you, they say we might be in for another hot autumn this year. I hope so. Then maybe people might quit blaming all this weird weather on El Niņo and realize -- something big is up. Something very, very big. Bigger than anyone even realizes.
You ready to go?
Just about. I'm almost done this part.
| ||(ELIZABETH is heard at the top of the
Hello? Anybody down there?
| ||(She descends the stairs, carrying
another box. Sees PETER.)
I thought you'd be at work.
Chris and I have a tenants' committee meeting at three. I just came by to pick him up.
Well here. I brought you some food. And some things you left at our place.
Have you met the landlord?
He's a skinhead!
He's very polite, actually. He calls me, "sir."
| ||(ELIZABETH sees what CHRIS is working on.)|
Oh god. We're not into this again, are we?
This -- "weather project."
| ||(CHRIS slams down whatever he's
Y'know, it is awfully hard to work like this.
All right, I'm sorry.
Y'know, I'm not really sick anymore, Mother. You don't have to treat me like I am!
You two -- you two -- I mean, I just wish you could treat me with a little respect. Just respect what I'm doing.
Chris, I was just joking.
I mean there are lots of other people working on this same thing. I mean, scientists have been looking for years for better ways to predict the weather. So it's not just me. And I know you don't believe in it either, Dad, but at least you don't have to laugh at it.
I wasn't --
Yes you were, when you came in from the kitchen, I could see you, you were laughing!
I mean what if it worked?
| ||(He quickly exits up the stairs.)|
Actually, I kind of like his weather project.
At least he's not sitting around watching "Judge Judy."
He'll calm down.
He's right. I shouldn't have said anything.
He's just mad about -- you know.
Right. You -- know.
That makes me feel a lot better. What I did was so awful it can't even be mentioned.
There was nothing awful about it.
I mean isn't he better off on his own, here? Isn't he?
Of course he is.
I mean it's almost like a crutch I think, coming back to live with Richard and me every time he gets out of hospital.
Plus you have Ava and Benny to think about.
Then why do I feel so guilty about it?
Lizzie. He's been talking about moving out on his own for years. You just gave him the push he needed.
At least you found him someplace clean.
And with a polite skinhead.
It would help, however, if the Minister would come up with the money. You get hold of her?
| ||(He moves to massage her shoulders.)|
Oh, yes. It's ridiculous. They're so fucking scared of their poll numbers right now, they can't think of anything else. I swear to god, I bust my ass for these people during elections, get them elected, handle their divorce cases after. And what do I get when I call up and ask if they might hurry the cheque along? "I'll look into it."
Whatever happened to patronage?
Well, I think we'll be all right. Besides, in my mind it's already finished. The roof garden. The hallways. The way the sun bounces off that blonde wood we're using. I can already see Chris living there.
Okay, I'm sorry.
Look, Chris --
No no, I'm sorry, I shouldna took your head off like that. It's just, uh -- I get a little tense when I work. And I appreciate you bringing this stuff over. I don't know what I would have done without my --
-- fake Balinese cat carving.
| ||(He takes something from the box.)|
I know that's not yours. I thought you might just like to have it.
Great. Thanks. And, uh, Mom, you tell Ava I'm glad she's got my old room. But if she puts any Hanson posters up on the wall, I'll kill her.
She's into Marilyn Manson now.
Well hey, I know-- we got a few minutes.
Why don't I show you the latest drawings?
| ||(He picks up a tube nearby.)|
Oh, uh, hey, no Dad, I think we better get going.
I think so too.
No no, we got time.
Yeah yeah, we got time, Dad, but in a funny way -- we don't.
I'll walk you to your car.
I'll see you out there!
| ||(He puts on a jacket, leaves.)|
But I changed the washrooms.
I'm sure the washrooms are lovely, Peter. But you do tend to go on.
| ||(He slides the drawings back in their
tube. ELIZABETH smiles.)
Good. See you at the next board meeting.
I go on?
| ||(ELIZABETH stops, turns.)|
| ||(ELIZABETH exits up the stairs. PETER
looks to us.)
I once thought I was going to marry that woman. Mind you, I once thought a lot of things.
| ||(Stanley Park. The seawall. DREW, in
his mime gear, begs invisible passersby
for passing change. On the back of his
jersey it says "Hope House."
PETER walks into the scene. Watches
DREW for a moment.)
Do you have to do that?
It really does irritate people, you know.
| ||(DREW turns, mimes surprise.)|
Oh all right, they love it.
You want something? Here.
| ||(Mimes happiness. Scuttles over to PETER,
begs for change.)
That was one of those surprises I told you about.
| ||(He kisses DREW. DREW is genuinely
surprised. PETER looks to us.)
Hi. Uh, hi.
I thought you weren't supposed to talk.
Mimes. When you're being a mime. You're not supposed to talk.
Oh, thaaaat. No that's just a, um, myth. No, we mimes love to talk. Talk, talk, talk. Can't shut us up.
Besides. Most people hate mimes. We like people who kiss us.
Meet Drew. My lover. Also a mime. That would make him my lover-mime. Used to be an actor, works at an AIDS hospice now. When he's not raising money for it by harrassing people in Stanley Park, which is where we are now, by the way.
Oh god! It is so beautiful out there.
I used to come down here when we were doing The Scottish Play at the Playhouse. Get all that blood and gore out of my system. Sit here, watch the um um um sailboats go by. Lovely.
What is "The Scottish Play"?
How's the building?
| ||(They sit there. Birds, passing
voices. Distant traffic.)
What? What? Spill.
Well it's bad enough the money's delayed. Now the contractor says we're gonna fall three weeks behind because the wood for the floors is delayed. I mean I chose this wood because it was cheap and easy to get and now it turns out it has to come from Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan. I didn't even know they had wood in Saskatchewan. But we can't replace it with anything else because everything else is too expensive. And --
I get the idea.
-- then -- oh, I don't know -- the tenants' committee is saying the rooms have to be bigger but there also have to be more of them, and the architect side of me is saying it can't be done but the politically correct side of me is saying, "I'm just the architect, you're calling the shots" and meantime of course I'm going broke working on this project --
We are chilling now. We are not getting ourselves all worked up.
It's too nice for that. Besides. They do have trees in Saskatchewan. I was there once on a schools tour. I'm certain I saw some.
| ||(YVONNE enters, in a worn overcoat.)|
All right, I'll see you there. Bring some blankets if you can!
| ||(Calling off to someone.)|
| ||(She starts to brush by. Doesn't see
Drew. Is that you?
This looks like an outtake from some Fellini movie.
Yvonne. We met for about two minutes at the last Christmas party. You were with Drew. Don't worry, it'll come back to you.
Yvonne volunteers down at Hope House, Peter.
Tell that asshole administrator of yours to get something decent to read in the library.
She's a counsellor, believe it or not. And, uh, Peter's designing the halfway house, Yvonne. The one down on, you know, Homer.
Oh. Well, isn't that interesting. Nice name.
| ||(Pause. PETER senses something weird
in the air.)
So you think that place is really going to help people, do you?
Well, not as many people as we'd like, Drew and I were just talking about that, but --
You don't think it's gonna be kinda like a -- zoo for crazy people?
A zoo. Y'know, you stick em in there, feed em medications, then let em out in public every once in a while to put on a show.
Let's go, Drew.
You don't think that's true?
No, funny thing, I don't think that's true. And frankly if I'm going to be insulted, I'd rather it was by somebody I knew a little better. So thanks, but --
It's not true the people there will have to take meds?
I don't know about that.
No? Well maybe you should find out.
What do you know about it?
Yvonne's a "Doctor" Yvonne, Petie. Psychiatrist.
Was. Lousy racket. Got out of it. Mostly because I saw a lot of well-intentioned people trying to help out a lot of crazy people and mostly making a mess of it.
Especially with meds. Y'see, I run a little squat, Peter. An old abandoned house, don't ask me where, I won't tell ya. It's nothin to write home about. Lousy plumbing. No electricity. But at least the people there don't have drugs forced down their gullets every day.
I hardly think that's going to happen at "Water's Edge."
And as the father of a schizophrenic son who's been in and out of hospital for ten years now, I think I may know just as much about the subject as you do, Doctor.
You have a kid?
It's a complicated world, Yvonne.
He's got schizophrenia? What's his name?
Chris. Reis --
Chris Reisler is your son?
You know him?
Oh hell, yes. He stayed with us at the squat for awhile. He'd had some argument with his Mom or something, he only stayed a few days.
Oh well that explains a great deal.
Well, frankly, Peter -- a lot of these people are staying with me to get away from their mothers and fathers.
That is preposterous.
If you say so.
I suppose you think we should just treat them all with sunshine and love.
Now there's an idea. I mean that other stuff is poison, Peter. Really. Poison. What these people need is clarity, and taking a pill doesn't give you clarity, it just fucks you up some more.
What if they're delusional, Yvonne?
Then they're delusional. You got a problem with that?
Maybe. Maybe if they're sitting next to me in a restaurant and --
Oh, well, hell, some people wouldn't want you two sitting next to em in a restaurant. Does that mean we should give you a pill to make you stop?
Well. I don't think most people would agree with you.
Uh huh. Well. I'm used to that.
Still, I'm -- sorry to take your head off that way. I know not all parents are ogres. Chris seemed to think you're all right.
Anyway. I better get going.
You working days or nights this week?
I'll see you there.
I'd like you to come see Water's Edge sometime. I'd like to show you around.
Oh, look, you don't have to -
No no, I'd like to. I think that'd be good.
I mean it's not much to look at right now . . . but I think I could make you see. The way I see it. The way I have it up here. The rooms. Bright. Airy. I mean I've gone to those dingy hotel rooms most people end up in and I said, whatever they've done here, we'll do the opposite. The common room. Where people can sit and argue about what TV show to watch, just like a real family. The quiet room, up on the second floor, you know what that means? -- it means people can sit there and look out and see the harbour, you know how hard that is to do these days downtown?, but I figured out a way to do it. Sit and watch the cruise ships come floating in. And the balconies on some of the rooms, and the garden -- ! I mean -- I mean I just don't see how this can be a bad thing. And I'd like to show it to you sometime. If you think you'd like to see it.
Well. Maybe I'll take you up on that sometime. See what we can arrange.
I mean, we could go there right now!
Peter, I think we should -
No, not right now. But sometime. I'll get in touch with you through Drew.
Well I know. I'll go get us all an ice cream!
I don't want an ice cream.
| ||(He is off. DREW looks to YVONNE.)|
Nice work, Yvonne.
Socially adept, as always. Remind me not to invite you to the next Christmas party.
Your friend okay?
Your friend. Everything all right?
Of course everything's all right.
How long you known him?
Four years. Why?
He always like this?
He's excited about his building. Is there something wrong with that?
Well that depends.
Whether it's really as wonderful as he thinks it is, I guess.
I'll see you around.
| ||(She goes. DREW stands there for a moment, considering. Exits after PETER.
PETER returns. To us:)
So! Who's figured it out so far? Hands up. Good.
Yes, that's right, everybody's mad in this play. Either in the conventional sense or the medical sense. Except maybe for Drew. Which may be why I love him.
As for me, I'm just a little bit mad at this point. Unlike being pregnant, it is possible to be just a little bit mad. But it gets worse. Many "Lear-on-the-Heath" scenes to come.
What I have is different than what Chris or Tara, whom you haven't met yet, have. They have schizophrenia. I'm manic-depressive. Though I'm not sure it really matters. In either case, something creeps up behind you and grabs you by the throat and says, "I'm here." And everything is different after that.
I suppose I got from my mother. Who got it from her grandfather, who got it from -- well, you get the idea. I can't be sure, really: my mother killed herself when I was thirteen, and in those days it was called being "overly sensitive."
Still, just because your mother was manic-depressive doesn't mean you have to be. Take my sister, for instance. Jane. Never met a day she didn't like. Can't figure out what my problem is. Mind you, she's obsessive-compulsive and spends two hours each day reorganizing her closets, but that's another story.
Back to this one. We're back at Chris's apartment, about a week later. This is when things start to get -- complex.
| ||(CHRIS is with TARA, who has a bruise under one eye. TARA is laughing at some story CHRIS has been telling.)|
No no no really -- do you remember that guy? Used to steal the Smarties from the candy machine? Tom.
No . . .
Don't you remember? He was double-jointed. And somehow he could get his hand right in their and steal whatever he wanted.
Yeah, that's right. And it was always Smarties. Boy, did that guy like Smarties.
| ||(PETER enters down the stairs, hurrying, carrying a white scale model of "Water's Edge.")|
Hey, Chris, I got the new model, you gotta see, I --
| ||(TARA bolts from her chair, crawls
under the table.)
No no no Tara, it's all right, it's all right.
Who was that?
It's just Tara -- she's just --
Tara, it's all right, it's just my Dad, I should have warned you he might show up.
| ||(He looks under the table.)|
NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ESCALATOR!
Tara, I'm telling you, it's all right to come out.
| ||(TARA pokes her head out. Looks to PETER.)|
I don't know.
No, well you'll get to know him. It would just be better if you came out first.
Dad, as I said, this is Tara. Tara, this is --
| ||(TARA emerges, sits, smooths her dress as if nothing has happened.)|
| ||(Extends her hand to PETER. Very politely:)|
It's a great pleasure to meet you.
Tara and I met in Riverview. She got out a little while ago.
| ||(PETER studies TARA for a moment more. Then:)|
So! You all ready to go?
We have a meeting with the minister's assistant.
Yeah, I know, I --
. . . can't.
I see. Well it's just they're expecting you. As head of the tenants' committee, they need to have you there.
I'll send a note.
No, Chris, they need you to okay the plans!
I'll just leave for a minute.
You don't have to leave, Tara.
No, that's all right, I'll just -- go in here.
| ||(Heading for the kitchen.)|
Nice meeting you.
Nice -- meeting you too.
| ||(She regards them for a moment, goes.)|
That was rude.
Making her go into the kitchen like that.
I didn't make her go into the kitchen.
She's very polite. She likes to do things properly. Believe me -- you made her go into the kitchen.
Are you -- going out with her?
I don't know. Are you -- dating her?
No, I'm not "dating" her. I'm not sleeping with her either, if that's what you're asking. She's just staying here. Just until she can find someplace of her own.
She's staying here?
Yeah, that's right.
She can't do that, Chris.
Yeah, well, she can't live in a box down by the water any more either. So I guess we don't have much choice.
She got kicked out of Riverview last time they closed a bunch of beds. She was living in the Balmoral until a few days ago, until the manager tried to . . .
She wouldn't let him. That's how she got that black eye.
I found her living down by the water. She was living in a old wardrobe container. I saw this . . . pink piece of material sticking out. It looked kinda like curtains, I was gonna bring em back, put em up here. Turned out it was a corner of her housecoat. I recognized her right away. We were pretty good friends in Riverview. I was wonderin what happened to her.
Anyway, like I say, we're not sleeping together, so you can save the condom lecture.
I wasn't thinking about that.
You must be getting old.
I'm thinking she can't stay here, Chris.
Uh huh. Well you take her back down there.
I'm thinking if she stays here you'll probably both get kicked out!
It wasn't part of the deal. I told the guy, it'd just be you, just till the halfway house opens.
Who? Mr. Neo-Nazi upstairs?
Yeah, well he's the one who's really crazy around here.
Exactly! You want him coming down here, deciding to do a few eugenics experiments?
So what do you want me to do?
I don't know, you --
Look, she has no place to go if I send her out of here. So I am not telling her to leave!
-- time to want not to leaving out --
Hey, Tara, I was just coming to get you.
We were just --
NO! NOT SLEEPING WITH CHRIS! NO! I DON'T DO THAT!
Not going here anyway.
| ||(TARA moves to retrieve an old bag from the couch. She stuffs a few loose items of clothing in it.)|
Tara? Tara, what are you doing?
Tara, no, look, we were just arguing, you don't have to leave!
| ||(Muttering to herself, TARA stuffs a napkin from the table in her bag, reconsiders, takes it out again, then starts towards the stairs.)|
Don't you DON'T YOU--
-- IS THIS A CAR? IS THIS A RIDE THAT IS GOING SOMEWHERE? IS IT? IS IT? WHY DON'T YOU ALL JUST GIVE UP?
| ||(Swinging her bag at him.)|
Tara . . . I wish you would stay and eat something first.
Tara . . . look . . . I should mind my own business. I had no right asking that. I apologize.
I'm very religious. I believe in God.
I'm sure you do.
Sometimes I know that God is watching over me.
| ||(PETER moves away, thoughtful.)|
Well. Maybe we should get out of here for awhile, Tara.
Oh yes we could do that.
Leave Dad to stew.
| ||(He gets a jacket. They prepare to go.)|
Wait a minute. I know.
You know what, Dad?
I've got it. I know what we should do.
We'll get Tara into Water's Edge. Won't we. That's exactly what we'll do. I mean we've been talking about putting in those extra two rooms, so I'll put them in, and one of them can be for her.
Dad. There's a waiting list.
Well she can't just --
Then she can room with you, you two can have one of the doubles, I don't care that doesn't bother me a bit. And then when something opens up --
I don't think they're --
I'm just pointing out that the solution might be easier than we think!
Well. Okay. If you say so.
I'll check into it.
I just . . . don't want to get Tara's hopes up too much.
Let's go outside.
| ||(They exit. PETER stands there. A doubt seems to cross his mind. But it's quickly gone. He moves to the model, regards it.)|
| ||(Light change. Music. Special on
The idea behind my weather project is . . .
You know how scientists say that the smallest disturbance one place can lead to a huge disturbance somewhere else? Like, for example, a butterfly opening its wings in Japan can cause a hurricane someplace else? Scientists say this. So I'm thinking . . . what if you could trace that hurricane back to its source?
| ||(Elsewhere, PETER ponders the model.)|
Like, say, if you could determine what event caused a certain hurricane or heat wave or blizzard or flood . . . then you could start to predict it, see? You could start to watch for events like that, and know what was coming. And you could even stop it, see, by stopping the event that caused it. I don't mean, you know, we should kill all the butterflies in Japan or something . . . But you could predict it. You could predict the hurricane. Years in advance, you could warn people what was coming.
| ||(PETER takes up the model and crosses
to a drafting table elsewhere.
Meantime, TARA has moved into the
basement suite and begins to gather
up furniture, or maybe odds and ends
from Chris's weather project box, and
build a tower out of it.)
And I think people would like that. Because it's getting scary, man. You don't know what the weather's going to do these days. I mean, they say we should be worried about this earthquake, but I'm worried about the next snowstorm, you know what I mean? I'm worried about what that's going to do.
| ||(PETER has taken the roof off the
model and moves about pieces inside.
TARA continues to add to her tower.)
Anyway. That's the idea of it. That's what I'm attempting.
| ||(Pause. TARA pushes over the tower.
It falls with a clatter. Pause.)
| ||(PETER puts the roof back on, lifts
the model up in his hands. Considers
it. Light on model.)
| ||(PETER and DREW's condo. Just PETER,
sitting in a sling-type chair, reading
Oh my god.
Your friend Yvonne. She's in the paper.
Our place. Condo. Above False Creek. If you were here -- well, you are here, but if you were really here -- you'd see: Drew's grandmother's old couch, halogen lamp with CD rack built in, poster of the Arts Club production of "Marvin's Room" --
| ||(PETER puts down the paper, looks to us.)|
-- Drew. Without his makeup.
| ||(DREW enters. PETER indicates him.)|
What's she doing in the paper?
"Murderer Guilty On All Counts?"
| ||(He takes the paper from PETER, reads.)|
Oh my god.
That's the one.
| ||(DREW scans the story for a moment
more, looks to the audience.)
The gist of the story --
-- Do you mind?
Please. Go right ahead.
The gist of the story is that Yvonne and about five of the people from her, like, squat -- at least I assume that's where they're from -- showed up at the construction site with signs saying things like "Zoos Are For Animals".
Which will come as a surprise to the animal-rights activists. No doubt we can expect a counter-demonstration tomorrow.
Did you know about this?
No. But then I'm just the architect.
Oh well it's not so bad.
Not so bad?
Well it was just her and -- how many people?
Plus a newspaper reporter. Which means now it's on page B-3, and half a million people are reading about it.
I really wouldn't worry about it.
No. The last thing Yvonne demonstrated against was um um um --
Expo 86. And that happened, didn't it?
Oh well hell, we'll just ignore it them shall we? And it'll all go away!
| ||(He tosses the paper aside. Pause.)|
You're all right, aren't you?
What do you mean?
You're all right. I mean, I know you're under a lot of pressure, and I know you're upset about Yvonne and her cohorts, but -- you do seem sort of uptight these days.
I mean I'm just asking.
Because you did have that one time just after we met where you thought, you know, maybe you needed a vacation or something, and then it just passed and -- but you don't usually get so upset by things you read in the paper.
They don't usually involve projects I've been working on for two years!
I'm fine. I just need for this thing to get built and open and then everything's going to be okay. We can forget about Yvonne and Chris'll be taken care of and everything'll be fine. All right?
You don't think you should take a break from it for awhile?
Ha. You're sweet. No, I can't take a break from it. But thanks for asking.
Well I gotta get going. You wanna come down with me? We're playing Six Degrees of George Clooney tonight.
Be still my beating you-know-what.
Okay. I'll see you in the morning then. Tape "3rd Rock" for me!
| ||(DREW exits. PETER sits there. Moves
to where he threw the paper. Smooths
it. Begins to read again.)
| ||(The building site. Sounds of
construction, traffic nearby. PETER,
ELIZABETH, YVONNE enter, wearing
-- And here we have the games room!
No halfway house is complete without one.
The games room, eh?
Well, games, meetings whatever.
That's what my place needs. A games room. I'll get to work on that -- just as soon as I fix the hole in the floor of the can.
Still, I have to say, it's awfully nice of you people to invite me down here. Officially, I mean. After all the things I said about you in paper.
And on the news.
And on the news, right.
And on your webpage.
You saw that, did you Mrs. Reisler?
Galt. I'm not married to Peter. We never were.
And no, that's not the reason Chris is mentally ill --
I didn't say --
Oh I can see it behind your eyes. I see it behind a lot of peoples' eyes.
"Aha! At last ve have zee truth! Dysvunctional family! Suddenly, it all makes zense!" But the fact is we were young, we were confused -- Peter a little more than I, perhaps -- and we had a baby. Whom we loved, and still love, and have loved continuously for twenty-five years now. We even like each other, don't we Peter?
| ||(Like a Viennese psychiatrist.)|
Absolutely. In fact, if I was eighteen and sexually confused again --
I get the idea. Y'know Mrs. Galt, you and I could get along, I think.
You seem to hate psychiatrists as much as I do. But the fact is, I don't change my mind easily. That's because I took so long making it up. It might take more than a guided tour to budge me.
Like what? A scud missile?
I don't really expect to budge you, Doctor. But I can hope, can't I? That's pretty much all I do, really. That and fund raise.
Should we show her the kitchen?
Right this way.
It looks more or less like the games room.
| ||(CHRIS and TARA enter. TARA wears
a hardhat, CHRIS doesn't. They're
DON'T -- run around here. It's probably not a good idea.
Where's your hardhat, Chris?
Oh. It's uh -- oh, I don't know. Here, gimme yours.
| ||(CHRIS runs, TARA chases
Oh. Right. Sorry.
Here, take mine.
You back on meds, Tara?
| ||(She tosses her hardhat to him.)|
You know each other?
Oh yeah. Tara stayed with us, about the same time Chris did. You back on meds?
Oh yes, I think so. I mean -- yes.
That what you want?
She was having hallucinations --
I was asking Tara, Chris. That what you want?
Okay. Fine. Just as long as someone asked.
Besides, Chris's father is going to get me a place to live here. So I think pretty soon -- that'll be satisfactory.
He's going to try to get you a place.
Did you tell her that?
Well -- yeah -- I mean, we're putting in the two extra
-- and if necessary they'll --
Oh jesus, Peter, this project is about this close to going tits up! So maybe it's time we quit making promises!
This is news? Or a rumour?
A bit of both. The fact is . . . the government is looking at a rather large deficit these days. And the word of the moment is "cut."
They're going to cut our money?
They haven't said that. But I'm definitely hearing alarms.
They can't do that!
Oh yes they can.
It's half built! How could they shut it down now?
Simple. Cabinet meeting, quiet word to the deputy minister, siss-boom-bah. It takes years to make anything happen in government-land, but only about ten seconds to stop it.
Not that they're always wrong, mind you.
| ||(With a glance to ELIZABETH.)|
Well you're going to tell them, aren't you?
Tell them what?
That they can't do it. Tell them they can't shut it down!
I'll talk to them. It's probably nothing. I'll have a word with the minister myself.
And if that doesn't work?
Then I'll --
If she decides to ignore you, just like she ignores everybody else she doesn't wanna -
Look, Chris --
Oh I think she's gonna build it. I think she's going to say yes.
We all hope so, Tara.
Oh I really she will.
Look. Like I said. It's probably nothing. Ignore it and it'll go away. C'mon, Yvonne, I'll show you the --
No. I think I better go.
But look. Tara. I'll give you my card. Things don't work out here -- you call that number, okay? They'll tell you where we are. Okay?
Okay. And you too Chris. Any time you want.
| ||(TARA takes the card. Nods.)|
Thanks for the tour. I'd tip my hat, but I don't have one.
We've got to go talk to her, Chris.
She's got the scent of blood now. It's a look lawyers get to know.
| ||(She goes, CHRIS follows. PETER and TARA are suddenly left alone.)|
Well. I guess we'll just have to wait here.
| ||(He sits beside her. Pause.)|
Chris says you're scared of me.
He says sometimes you're scared around people who are sicker than he is. He says everybody is.
Well, I -- suppose that might be true. Sometimes.
That's okay, cause I'm scared of you. When you come into the suite that day -- you scared me.
Not at all.
I'm sorry I got you into trouble, though.
Just now. I shouldna told her about what you said.
Oh that. Well. She would have found out eventually, I guess.
I try to be polite, you see.
I've noticed that.
I think politeness is quite important. I wish more people would be polite.
I found that out when I watched Gone With the Wind. Somebody told me I should watch it cause that's where my name comes from. Tara. Like the house. So I did, and that's how I got interested in Vivien Leigh. She was polite. And then later I found out Vivien Leigh had some trouble with . . . mental problems too. And I thought, if she can be polite even though she had that problem, I can too.
You ever see that movie?
Only about ten times.
Once I stayed up all night just watching it over and over.
Well sometimes I think I might have some . . . problems like that too.
Well, sometimes. Sometimes I don't see things as clearly as I used to. Sometimes I think . . . well I stop, and I realize, I don't know what I'm thinking. I'm not really thinking anything at all. I'm just -- all I am is feeling, just emotion, going around and round.
I don't feel like that.
I think I'm thinkin all the time.
And then I think . . . well, I don't think, but I worry that maybe that's why Chris is sick. Because of me. Not something I did, but . . . just because that's the way things work. And then I think I owe it to him to make it up somehow.
I don't think he thinks that.
He says not to be afraid of you. He says you just worry too much.
But you are homosexual, aren't you?
. . . Yes. Is that a problem for you?
Chris already told me that.
Oh jeez I shouldna asked that.
No, Tara, it's all right --
I can be just so rude sometimes! Sometimes I am not polite at all!
This one time? . . . we was down at the beach . . . this was when I was at the hospital an he was there too . . . an, I dunno, I got separated from everybody somehow, an I went walking the wrong way? An I was tryna find where everybody was, when suddenly . . . I seen this man standin there, bare naked. Bare naked, with his bum ta me, just readin a newspaper. An I looked . . . an there were other people, all naked, lyin on towels or playin frisbee, or swimmin . . . an nobody seemed to care that they didn't have any clothes on. Whereas other places, like the hospital, if you took your clothes off everybody would yell and rush over and make you put em back on.
So I went over. I walked over to that other part of the beach, I even imagined that I was walkin across a little line in the sand. An I went by a big rock . . . an I took off my jeans an my blouse, an my panties . . . till I was completely bare naked! An I knew this wasn't appropriate behaviour, but somehow, down there -- it was! An there was a man painting a picture, he smiled at me, an I wasn't afraid, I wasn't even embarrassed.
An then I walked into the ocean . . . which I never did usually when I was down at the beach. There was something about it, I was scared of it, allas thinkin what might be down there that could swim up an bite me. But now I wasn't scared at all. An it was cold, an I could feel it risin up, past my ankles, my knees, my privates, my breasts . . . till I just stood there . . . just a head, floatin on the water, lookin inna shore, at all the pink an brown bodies on the sand.
An then everybody come runnin down the beach at me, they thought I was drownin, come runnin an pointin, Chris most of all. An I made em chase me, all through the water, an up onto the beach, kickin up sand, holdin my clothes out to me. An when he got to me, he turned around an made me put my clothes on, an he said that was rude, that was just about the rudest thing he'd ever seen anybody do. But I was just laughin n laughin, eh? Mind you that was before.
Before I knew about Vivien Leigh.
| ||(She smiles. PETER laughs.
| ||(The yard outside Chris's basement
suite. PETER and TARA just leaving.
CHRIS enters from another direction,
calling to someone.)
Yeah, okay, we'll see you! Thanks very much!
Who were you talking to?
Yeah. He's actually quite nice.
Well yes I know, but -- what were you talking to him about?
Oh I know.
Me. Whether I can stay or not.
No prob at all.
What did you say to him?
I said I had a friend staying with me, and she needed a place to stay, and she'd be moving out when I did.
And he agreed to that?
Absolutely. Absolutely no problem at all.
Well, I did have to . . . tell him a few -- things about Tara and me.
Well I told him we were both crazy.
He knew that.
He knew that about me. But I thought I should explain to him that Tara had -- luniosis terramania.
I have no idea.
You told him that?
Yeah. And I told him that it was kinda like what that guy in "Silence of the Lambs" had, only worse, kind of like what that guy in "Silence of the Lambs" and that girl in "Urban Legends" had put together.
And I told him I could ask you to leave if he really insisted, but I couldn't take responsibility for what might happen after that.
And he believed you?
Yeah. Then I gave him a few tics and grimaces and then everything seemed fine!
Y'know, on the whole, this disease is a shitty gig. But every once in awhile it has its advantages.
| ||(Now PETER and TARA are laughing too.)|
I can't believe you said that!
So we're fine till he actually meets you for real. Maybe you could take to carrying a large butcher knife with you when you leave the house.
I wonder what he'd do if . . .
. . . he thought --
-- there were two crazy people living with you. Two --
| ||(Twitches. Goes bug-eyed.)|
psychopathic -- murderers --
-- living just below him -- capable -- of doing anything -- at any moment!
| ||(He pulls a pen from his
breast pocket, holds it
like a dagger.)
I think -- he might be -- a little upset. In fact, it's the kind of thing -- that might drive a landlord -- CRAAAAAAAAAAAAZYYYY!!!
| ||(He stalks around the yard in
imitation of a B-movie madman.)
| ||(PETER runs off, screaming. Pause.
CHRIS and TARA look to each other.)
That is scary.
| ||(In the dark, thunder.
CHRIS sits at the table in the
basement suite, working on
his weather project. It's not
going well, though. He's trying
to do something very delicate and
it's not working. Finally, he
throws it down in frustration.)
OH! I CANNOT DO THIS! WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE JUST HAUL THIS AWAY AND BURN IT.
. . . Sorry, Tara.
What's that noise?
It's just thunder. That's all.
I thought it was an earthquake. Had me scared.
| ||(ELIZABETH enters down the stairs.
Yeah, sorry, I was just -- working on my project.
It's thundering out there.
It's so strange. You hardly ever hear thunder here.
Chris, I have to speak to you.
| ||(ELIZABETH looks to TARA,
I just spoke to the deputy minister . . .
She called to tell me before it's in the newspapers. They're shutting Water's Edge down.
They say they have to do some further "community consultation." In other words, all that noise Yvonne made got to them.
Yvonne's just an excuse.
They're doing it to save money!
Those goddamn hypocrites! If they were gonna do this, they shoulda never started in the first place!
So what did you tell her?
Well there wasn't much I could tell her, I --
In other words nothing.
What are we going to do?
. . . I'm not sure yet, Tara.
We can stay here, right?
. . . I'm not sure.
Look, Chris --
No you look. You just go, okay? If it hadn't been for you and all your friends in high places, this wouldn't of happened. So just go, okay?
I didn't shut it down!
No, but at least we wouldn't of got our hopes up.
I am trying to build you a home!
Yeah, that's right, eh, just so long as it isn't with you.
I beg your pardon?
He didn't mean that.
Yeah I did. I had a place, you threw me out.
You know you are a nasty little piece of work sometimes.
You know you couldn't have stayed at our place any longer. You didn't even want to.
No, but I would of liked some choice in the matter!
Oh, "choice," "choice," what does that word mean? What was my choice, eh, everytime the hospital decided to release you on two days notice, what was my choice, everytime you started to get sick again and started to smear your shit on the walls? What was Ava and Benny's choice?
That was a long time ago.
Not that long ago, Chris.
I don't do that anymore.
I know you don't, that's why I'm trying to help you, I am trying to help you get on with your life!
You don't have to yell at Chris, you know.
Tara, I'm just --
He's just saying that cause he's mad!
Fine then. Fine. Get your stuff. I'll take you back with me. C'mon let's go.
Or your father, maybe you can stay with him and Drew for awhile, just till we sort this out.
I need someplace that Tara can be with me!
I'm sure we can find some place that Tara can --
No! You don't understand! Tara and I want to be together now!
Oh. I see.
So that's why we gotta have someplace we can go to together.
C'mon Tara. Let's get out of here for a bit.
| ||(CHRIS and TARA start up the stairs.)|
It's okay, Mom. I never really thought it was gonna happen anyway.
| ||(They go. Sound of thunder, nearer.
ELIZABETH looks up.
Outside, PETER approaches hurriedly,
carrying a cardboard tube, as CHRIS
and TARA exit.)
Not right now, Dad.
I just heard, I think we can --
Go to hell.
| ||(CHRIS brushes by him. TARA follows.
PETER flings the cardboard tube
aside, rushes to catch up with them.
He grabs CHRIS from behind.)
DON'T YOU TELL ME TO GO TO HELL, I AM DOING THIS FOR YOU, WHO DO YOU THINK I AM DOING THIS FOR?
| ||(They struggle briefly, until
CHRIS gets hold of his father's arms
and pushes them away. They stand,
staring at each other, both stunned.
PETER looks to us.)
You see . . . they shouldn't call it going crazy. It's not someplace you go. You wake up one morning . . . and there you are.
| ||(He turns back to CHRIS. CHRIS and
TARA go. PETER stands there. He moves
to where the tube lies, picks it up,
End of Act One
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