“(Bad things happen in) Jennifer’s Bedroom” – Act 1.
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(Bad things happen in) Jennifer's Bedroom.
Lights up on Jennifer's half tidy bedroom. In the centre, sticking out towards the audience, is a cheap four poster futon. The posts are simple metal bars, black and fairly thin. The top is covered by a canopy of Indian silks. The room is decorated in a semi-ethnic way. It is obvious that Jennifer has travelled as the walls and free surfaces are littered with souvenirs - from rugs on the wall to a collection of Buddhas, Shivas, Scribes, and general pseudo-ethnic tat from each country that she has visited in her attempts to find herself. The room is not tidy, piles of clothes lie around; papers, CDs, magazines and books take up most available surfaces. There is an old battered radio-cassette alarm next to the bed. The time reads . A door at the back of the stage, on the stage-left side of the bed, is made of wood and mottled glass, enabling one to see shapes but not definite features of people on the other side. We are in silence for a moment, taking in the room. Then, from offstage, a shriek, followed by a man and a woman laughing. A few seconds later, Jennifer enters the bedroom. She is in her mid-twenties with a yoga-toned body. She is very attractive. She is dressed in white trousers and a crop top. She has a huge red-wine stain across the crotch of her trousers. She is giggling, obviously a little (but not a lot) the worse for drink. She removes the trousers. The wine stain has soaked through to her panties. She removes these as well, grabs a hand-towel from one of the piles and wipes herself off. John's silhouette appears behind the mottled glass. He gives a couple of light taps on the glass.
Jennifer: Just a minute.
She searches through one of the piles of clothes until she finds a long black skirt with a slit up the side (not too high, just to the lower thigh - she must be able to move and sit comfortably without flashing the audience). Once she has covered herself she calls...
Jennifer: Okay, come in.
Enter John, a man in his mid-thirties. He is dressed smart-casual, a shirt, chinos, a belt, sensible shoes, grey socks, and glasses. He is also a little tipsy. There is a splash of red wine across his shirt, near the waist. The way the wine has splashed makes it look as if he has been shot in the stomach. He enters, clutching his waist, playing up to the stain. He falls to his knees and begins to crawl towards Jennifer, putting on a upper-class first world war accent.
John: It's no good Captain... me and Smudger have bought it. Tell Harry and the boys back in Blighty to... ugh... hit a couple of sixes for me. Tell Harriet I... urgh... love...
He falls face first at her feet.
Jennifer: Excellent. Just how I like my men. Prostrate at my feet.
John: And dead?
Jennifer: But still warm.
John: And I suppose the rigor mortis helps to...
Jennifer: Okay! Enough.
They both start laughing.
Jennifer: Do you want a change of shirt?
John: Why? Got anything suitable?
Jennifer: I can do a nice line in floral prints.
She pulls out a horrible floral blouse.
Jennifer: I think this would suit sir's eyes.
John: Where are the changing rooms?
Jennifer: Is sir that self-conscious then?
A pause. She extends her arm, holding out the horrible blouse. There is a noticeable frisson between them. He takes the blouse and removes his shirt. She watches him. He is not entirely comfortable but doesn't want to let her know.
Jennifer: Not bad for an old git.
John: It's incredible what modern surgery can accomplish.
Jennifer: She's had you going down the gym then?
John: No. Fixing the house and digging the garden. It's like the gym, only without the poseurs.
Jennifer: Well, if you don't count Harriet.
John: Ah yes, but that's the sort of posing I can appreciate.
Jennifer: Really? Still?
John: Oh yeah.
Jennifer: Well aren't you just the perfect husband.
John: One tries.
Jennifer: And then, ten minutes later, when one has his breath back...
Both: ...one tries again.
They both laugh. John puts the blouse on. It looks ridiculous.
Jennifer: Next stop,
John: What about
Jennifer: No no no.
John: Ah, but the Champs Elysées is so beautiful in the autumn sunset.
Jennifer: Well ooh la la and pass the crepes.
John: Do I look as ridiculous as I feel?
Jennifer: I dunno. How ridiculous do you feel?
John: Pretty ridiculous.
Jennifer: Only pretty ridiculous. Hmm. Well then, I'm afraid the answer has to be that you look significantly more stupid than you feel.
John: Not just pretty stupid?
Jennifer: More like utterly absurd.
John: Should we call the taste police?
Jennifer: Not unless you want to be carried off in a beautifully decorated van and forced to wear the mad designs of a Versace sibling for the rest of your days.
John: No. I don't fancy that.
Jennifer: Good kudos with the ladies.
John: I've got all the lady I want in your sleeping sibling.
Jennifer: That's not sleeping. That's passing out.
John: I like to be charitable.
Jennifer: Is that why you married her?
John: Ouch, sharpen those claws.
Jennifer: Sister shit.
John: She said you'd had a few tense words recently.
Jennifer: She does like to understate.
John: Is it serious?
Jennifer: Nothing I can't work out.
Jennifer: So, John...
John: So, Jennifer...
Jennifer: Can you keep a secret?
John: From whom?
Jennifer: From my glorious sister, of course.
John: Harriet and I don't tend to keep secrets from each other.
Jennifer: God, you're just so bloody perfect aren't you. I bet you don't even think inappropriately.
John: (flirtatiously) Well I wouldn't go that far.
Jennifer: So what deep dark fantasies lurk under that uptight middle class front you put on so unconvincingly?
John: Wouldn't you like to find out...
Jennifer: (putting a hand on his leg) More than you'll ever know.
John: That's fighting talk.
Jennifer: Surely we don't have to come to blows.
John: I hope not. You'd kill me.
Jennifer: Still, it could be fun. I like a bit of pain.
John: I don't want to know that.
John: I'd better go and check on Harriet.
Jennifer: What's the point? She's fast asleep down there. You don't pass out with a wine glass in your hand and come round that quickly.
John: (standing up to get her hand off his leg) All the same, I'd better check.
Jennifer: She doesn't know how lucky she is.
John: Oh, I think she does.
He exits. Jennifer crosses over to her bedside table. She takes out Rizla, tobacco, and hash. She starts to skin up in silence. Now that John has left her face is serious, concerned. She is thinking hard and some of her thoughts cause her discomfort. She finishes making the joint and lights it, toking deeply. She blows the smoke out in front of her from her nose. The effect is slightly dragon-like. John knocks twice at the door again.
Jennifer: (a game) Who is it?
John: Taste Police. Someone reported a blouse infringement.
Jennifer: Well you'd best come in and frisk me then.
John: (entering) I don't think that'll be necessary ma'am
John: You know, you are a very naughty girl.
Jennifer: Years of practice.
Jennifer: Well, a girl's got to have a hobby. Want some?
She offers him the joint.
John: What is it?
Jennifer: Don't play naive with me John. You went to university didn't you?
John: I meant, what is it, Minali? Chariss?
Jennifer: Ooh, don't we expect the best. Sorry to disappoint but it's just your average shite British hash.
John: It smells good. Takes me back.
Jennifer: Ah yes, those days out on the prairie... Ma bringing in the hoss while Billy Bo Jim Bob and his identical twin sister Betsy Lou Patty Jane made up a mess 'o corn...
John: Actually, I went to
Jennifer: Same thing. Cousins shouldn't marry is a global rule.
John: Have you ever been to
Jennifer: Only the once. Didn't like it much. Too many hills.
John: I thought you went mountain climbing in
Jennifer: Yeah, mountains. Beautiful panoramas in every
direction. Fabulous animals and
generous gurus. Clear air, ethnic
music, flies for dinner. Maybe I
should have stayed longer but I didn't seem to find quite the same ambience
John: I don't know... the architecture is pretty fine.
Jennifer: Yeah, well, there was a lot of money in slaves.
Jennifer: I remember the street names.
John: Yeah, I know them, in
Jennifer: And you don’t think they should have changed the names?
John: I never thought about it that much.
Jennifer: I mean, isn't that just about the most offensive thing you've ever heard of? White ladies walk up one road, while the second class black citizens use another.
John: Like I say, I don't get worked up about that sort of thing.
Jennifer: Words, you see. Lethal weapons. Keep us all in our places. We ought to treat them with more respect. Spliff?
John: Oh, why not? But you can't tell Harriet. She'd not approve.
Jennifer: Well why do you think I was asking if you could keep a secret? Believe me, the sister suffers the same rulings as the husband.
John: She's not that bad.
Jennifer: Yes she is. Always has been. She likes to pass judgement. It's in her nature.
John: I suppose so. But she does it out of love.
Jennifer: Oh, well, that's all okay then. So long as it's well meaning fascism. For your own good. For the good of the master race and all that.
John: She's hardly a Nazi.
Jennifer: You never had to grow up sharing a room with her. Those six years make all the difference. You think boys are mean to each other, you should try being the younger sister. We endure tortures you can't even imagine.
John: Brothers can be pretty mean.
Jennifer: No no no. We ladies have a league of cruelty you'll never even begin to comprehend. You see, when a man gets angry with another man he shoots him. But a woman, a woman will get the man to shoot himself. Whole different level. (offering the spliff again) Did you say yes?
He takes the spliff from her and inhales deeply, trying to be cool. He coughs it all back up immediately. It makes his eyes stream. She laughs.
John: Alright, alright, no need for the hysterics. I haven't had a smoke in, well, years.
Jennifer: Better watch for the nicotine rush then.
John: Too late. Bloody hell.
Jennifer: Have another lug. Get acclimatised.
He takes another puff. This time he manages to keep it down. He breathes the smoke out and smiles.
John: God, I used to love this. Do it every day. God knows how I got my degree.
Jennifer: And what does big sis think about that then?
John: Well, truth be told, she doesn't know the worst of it. She wouldn't understand. She never did any.
Jennifer: You don't have to tell me that. I lived with the boring cow.
John: I don't see it that way. In fact, her straightness was one of the things that first attracted me to her. Her eyes. So alive, bright...
Jennifer: Not bloodshot, you mean.
John: No, more than that.
Jennifer: Is that why you stopped then, to win her heart?
John: No, it's more complicated than that... in fact I was glad when I stopped, but it’s true that I knew your sister would never marry a head.
Jennifer: Correct for ten points. So for an extra ten… Why are you smoking now?
John: Can't resist a pretty face.
Jennifer: God. That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me in weeks. What a sad bitch I am! Give us the spliff, Humph.
He passes her the spliff. She takes a couple of tokes in silence.
John: Do you want to talk about it?
Jennifer: Do you want to hear about it?
John: I'm bloody dying to hear about it. Harriet won't talk about it much. I mean, I know the bare facts. There was this guy - there's always a guy - and things went... a bit wrong. And I know about the, you know...
Jennifer: The abortion.
John: Yeah, that.
Jennifer: And that's all she told you?
John: Pretty much.
Jennifer: I thought you didn't keep secrets from each other.
John: About ourselves. We're still entitled to keep secrets for other people. I guess she thought it was for you to choose what to tell me.
Jennifer: That or she didn't think it was important enough to waste your time with.
John: No. I don't think it was that.
Jennifer: Of course you don't.
John: I don't.
Jennifer: Men in love. You're all so... gullible.
John: I don't see it that way.
Jennifer: Of course you don't. You're John. Perfect John, who never doubts his perfect world, his perfect wife.
John: It's not perfect. But I'm older than I was. I don't expect perfection. Not from the world, not from people, not from myself.
Jennifer: You're a pessimist?
John: I'm a realist. I spent most of my early twenties trying to make everything perfect. Railing against the world. Stop apartheid. Stop Thatcher. Stop people lying. Stop myself being attracted to anything with curves.
Jennifer: So what happened?
John: I turned thirty. And everything sort of shifted.
Jennifer: Sounds dramatic.
John: It wasn't. In fact it was so subtle that at first I didn't realise anything had changed. It just started coming out. I'd be in the bank and I'd realise that my account manager was in her early twenties and I just wasn't intimidated any more. This voice in my head said “Don't talk to me like that, you're just a kid.” And although, obviously, I never said it aloud, there must have been something in my bearing, my attitude, which said it all for me. Things just got done without all the grief. You'll see. It's a bloody revelation.
Jennifer: I met him in Dahab.
Jennifer: Adam. I met him in Dahab.
John: Where's that?
John: Sound's like I'd hate it.
Jennifer: No. You'd have to be totally soul-less for Dahab not to touch you. It has a vibe, a very very special vibe. Probably because you have to make a journey through hell to get there.
John: What do you mean?
Jennifer: Well, there are three options. Option One - you take a taxi there - bear
in mind that this is an eight hour journey across the desert - you take a
taxi which looks like it just might make it to the Cairo city limits with a
driver who looks at you in a half salacious, half money grabbing sort of
way. I had a vision of being found
raped and broke in the middle of the desert so I decide against it. So there's Option Two - the mini-bus. Sixteen westerners crammed into a mini-bus
almost big enough for twelve of them, ploughing through the night and the
desert fog at 80 miles an hour with just your side lights on. I did it on the way back. I've never been so scared in my life. The bloke next to me insisted on holding my
hand for the last four hours. Said if
he was going to die he wanted to do it with some small human contact. I saw his point, although he was a weird
looking freak. Tall and thin and
awkward, but with a kind look in his eyes, so I held his hand. A little too tightly sometimes! I should imagine he still has my nail prints
deep in his flesh now. So anyway,
that's Option Two, and then, finally, there's Option Three. Drumroll.
Bus. Cheaper and safer than Options
One or Two, but... well, it’s noisy.
When I got on the bus at
John: It sounds awful.
Jennifer: It was.
It is. It's the worst journey
I've ever taken. At least in
John: No thanks. I don't fancy the journey.
Jennifer: Well they're building an airport now, might
have already built it. You could fly
John: Is that right?
Jennifer: Sure is. Anyway, I've been there a day, and I'm finding my feet, trying to decide whether to go diving, camel riding, up Mount Sinai or swimming with dolphins, and I decide none of the above. I'm just going to sit on the cushions at one of the cafes, play backgammon with the local kids - all of who cheat by the way, but they're so endearing you just let them - and spend the rest of my day eating my way through the entire menu. I'm just tucking in to my third meal...
Jennifer: Yeah. I was eating in fits and starts. Some days I'd have no food at all, others I'd eat like Henry VIII. Anyway, I'm tucking into some really well cooked squid, trying to get my incisors through the rubber, when this guy plops himself down opposite me and says “How're ya doing?”. I look up, a little pissed off at being disturbed as this is my day of eating and being alone with my thoughts, and I'm about to tell him to piss off and leave me alone when I realise that he's absolutely gorgeous. So I smile my best killer smile.
John: How does that go?
Jennifer: I can't do it just like that. It has to be born out of the moment, okay?
John: Just asking.
Jennifer: Do you want to hear this story or not?
Jennifer: Then stop interrupting and do something useful.
She passes him the skinning up stuff.
John: I can't skin up any more.
Jennifer: Rubbish. It's like riding a bike, you never forget.
John: I can't ride a bike.
John: I never learned. I had dyspraxia when I was younger. It was hard enough just trying to walk in a straight line and catch a ball, not saying getting on wheels.
Jennifer: It doesn't show now.
John: You haven't seen me run!
Jennifer: Or dance.
John: Yeah. I don't do that either.
Jennifer: That bad huh?
Jennifer: Does it affect you, you know, in bed? If it's not a personal question.
John: If it's not a personal question?
John: What could possibly be more personal?
Jennifer: I could ask you what you think of when you masturbate.
John: I wouldn't tell you that either.
Jennifer: So you're not going to tell me then.
John: I'm not qualified. I'm the only man I've ever been in bed with. You'd have to ask Harry.
Jennifer: How would she know?
John: Well, there were others before me.
Jennifer: That what she told you, is it?
Jennifer: And slowly the marriage unravels...
John: Tell me more about Adam.
Jennifer: Ooh. Touch a nerve?
John: Listen Jen, I know that what Harry and I have isn't what you want. But it's fine and it's good and we're both really very happy and it's not going to fall apart under your or anyone else's probing.
Jennifer: Pretty cocky, aren't we?
John: I know my wife. There are no surprises round the corner.
Jennifer: (pointed) Nothing you can't see coming.
John: Precisely. And that's how I like it.
Jennifer: Fair enough. Sounds like a wild ride.
John: I'm too old for a wild ride.
Jennifer: For God's sake John, you're only thirty four. You talk like an OAP sometimes.
Jennifer: Definitely. Are you going to skin up or not?
John: No. You're going to skin up. I'm going to check on Harry and rescue the wine bottle.
Jennifer: Well now you're talking.
John: Back in a sec.
He exits. She skins up again. Faster this time, practiced. Her mind seems to be whirring. Once she has it lit she crosses to the radio-cassette player and is checking something on it when John comes in.
John: Setting the alarm?
Jennifer: Sort of.
John: Sort of?
Jennifer: Oh, it's just stupid.
John: What is?
Jennifer: Well, promise you won't laugh.
John: Only if you don't say something funny.
Jennifer: I've been leaving myself messages.
Jennifer: Well, it started a couple of weeks ago. I had my travelling tape in there to wake me up in the morning... remind me of, I don't know, happier times.
Jennifer: Well, I rewound it and it was blank.
Jennifer: It's this thing. Older than a ZX-81 and twice as shite. Something’s gone all funny with the electrics. Or the heads or something. Anyway, whenever it plays a tape now, it wipes it. It's a one time only sort of deal.
John: I could probably fix that for you if you like.
Jennifer: (immediate) No. I mean no thanks. It's okay. You see I've been recording messages for myself to wake up to.
John: What sort of messages?
Jennifer: Well, mainly they tell me that Satan is Lord and I should kill more prostitutes.
John: Can I laugh at that?
Jennifer: If the whim takes you. Basically it's just positivity. You know: “Morning Jen, you look beautiful today; the world is on your side.”. That sort of thing. Only a bit more personal and slushy. That's why I'm quite glad it wipes them as I go. No chance of anyone finding them and humiliating me at a later date, you know, when I'm hugely famous.
John: Can I hear one?
John: Oh, go on.
Jennifer: No. It's... personal.
John: I'll tell you what I think of when I masturbate.
Jennifer: I don't really want to know.
John: Oh, come on.
He reaches for the machine. She gets in his way.
Jennifer: I said no. And I meant it.
John: What would it take for you to play me that tape?
Jennifer: (thinks for a moment) Well, you can answer all my questions honestly...
Jennifer: I don't believe you.
John: Try me.
Jennifer: (thinks for a moment) Okay. Have you ever fantasised about me?
John: Oh come on, that's not fair!
Jennifer: You said anything.
John: Okay. Okay, yes. Yes I have.
Jennifer: Describe the fantasy.
John: No fucking way!
Jennifer: Pour the wine, have some of this (proffering the joint) and tell me.
John: Then I get to hear the tape.
Jennifer: Probably. Depends how good the fantasy is.
John: This is hardly a fair swap.
Jennifer: You don't know what's on the tape!
John: That good, eh?
Jennifer: I think you'll be impressed.
John: (intrigued) Okay. Fuck it, it's only a fantasy.
Jennifer: Exactly. So where are we?
Jennifer: In the fantasy, where are we?
John: Here. In this room. Under the sashes.
Jennifer: You like them then.
John: In a Turkish brothel sort of way.
Jennifer: You've never been in a Turkish brothel.
John: How do you know?
Jennifer: Have you?
John: Well, no. But I sort of imagine them to be a bit like this, with the four poster and the sashes, and stuff.
Jennifer: So, what happens?
John: You initiate it.
John: You just do. You look at me in a certain way and you lean towards me and suddenly we're kissing.
Jennifer: Am I a good kisser?
John: Of course. It's my fantasy.
Jennifer: And then I dance for you, and strip seductively.
John: Whose fantasy is this?
Jennifer: Good question.
Jennifer: So, what next.
John: Your top comes off.
John: I don't think I want to do this any more.
Jennifer: How? Come on. It's just words. Fun.
John: I... I tear it off.
Jennifer: Ooh! I like that.
John: (shocked) Do you?
Jennifer: Yeah. I like to be dominated. I gasp in response. And are they beautiful?
John: Of course. They're perfect. It's a fantasy.
Jennifer: Hey! They're pretty good in reality.
John: I'm sure they are.
Jennifer: Want to see?
John: No. No.
Jennifer: Fair enough. Carry on.
John: It gets very passionate. The silks start to fall around us. I take a couple of them, and I tie your wrists to the posts.
Jennifer: Well I'm shocked!
John: No you're not.
Jennifer: So I'm lying there... like this?
She gets into position (without actually tying herself up).
John: Sort of.
Jennifer: What's different? Tell me.
John: The skirt is shorter. And you're more upright, sitting, well, leaning.
She makes the necessary adjustments, pulling her skirt up to just above her knees.
Jennifer: Like this?
John: We shouldn't be doing this. Harriet could wake up any-
Jennifer: (more forceful) Like this?
John: Yeah, that's close enough.
Jennifer: Then what?
John: You're my sister in law.
Jennifer: Yeah. Naughty isn't it? Then what?
John: I don't know... I...
Jennifer: John. You've already ripped my top off and tied me to the bed. What's the point in getting all uptight now? Come on, tell me. I really want to know. No-one's ever fantasised about me before. Or at least, not that I know of.
John: That tape better be bloody stunning.
Jennifer: Trust me. It is.
John: Then I start to kiss you. I start at your neck, and ears, and then work down. Past your... chest.
Jennifer: Do you suck my nipples?
John: I bite and nibble at them.
Jennifer: I start to writhe and moan.
John: I slowly pull your skirt up and begin to lick and suck.
Jennifer: It's wet, and responds to your tongue.
John: You're begging me to fuck you, but I make you wait, and wait.
Jennifer: It's like torture. I just want you in me. I'm calling out your name.
John: Finally, I raise myself over you and grab hold of your legs. I pull them back so that it's deep. And then I plunge into you.
Jennifer: Oh yes. And I'm warm and tight.
John: Yes, you almost scream when I put it in.
Jennifer: Of course, you're so huge.
John: Of course. Bigger than you've ever had. You shudder and pulse as I slowly, slowly, push into you.
Jennifer: Wicked! Then what?
John: Then I cum.
Jennifer: That was quick.
John: It's a fantasy. You don't mind.
Jennifer: Fair enough. Then what?
John: Then I get a tissue, clean up, roll over and go to sleep.
Jennifer: In the fantasy?
John: No, in real life. The fantasy's over as soon as old one-eye erupts.
Jennifer: Are you alone in bed?
Jennifer: When you wank, are you alone in bed?
John: Not always.
Jennifer: (Eyes widening) No!!
John: Well, Harry's not always in the mood, you know.
Jennifer: That's... disgusting!
John: Well, you asked!
Jennifer: No, not a bad disgusting. A sort of sexy dirty sleazy disgusting. A good disgusting. Wow! Wow!
John: Play me the tape.
Jennifer: Later. I promise.
John: You'd better mean it.
Jennifer: Oh, I do. You have my solemn word as a lady of leisure.
John: Here. Have a joint.
Jennifer: Thanks. Wow! I'd have never thought you had it in you.
John: I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. You probably think I'm some sort of pervert now.
Jennifer: No! No, not at all. In fact, I think you may be more of a rogue than I ever gave you credit for.
John: Oh, erm, thanks.
Jennifer: So... you ever tied Harriet up?
John: What do you think?
Jennifer: I don't think sister dear could quite handle that. She likes to be in control. We're different that way.
Jennifer: And can you imagine the fuss she'd make if you tore her top off? God, you'd never hear the end of it.
John: Precisely. Anyway, fantasy is fantasy. In real life you'd scream rape and run to the police. If you had any sense!
Jennifer: Good job I haven't then isn't it.
Jennifer: Adam was dominant. Always. He had to go on top. Hated being underneath. Pissed me right off. I love it on top. Well, to be honest I love it any which way it comes! And he was a great shag. Great looking, tanned, dreadlocks, six-pack, the full works.
John: I never thought he was that special.
John: No. Really. The man was in love with himself.
Jennifer: You’re right there. I think I knew that too. Inside, somewhere. But he was a top shag. We did it in positions I'd never even thought of. And when he moved in here, well, for the first month that was pretty much all we did. That, and backgammon.
Jennifer: It was our thing. The first thing we did, you see. Well, after meeting eyes and making a silent agreement to sleep together. We played Backgammon. For hours. You can tell a lot about a person from the way they play Backgammon.
Jennifer: Oh yeah. He played with abandon. Wild risks for maximum gains and to hell with the consequence. He was a master of the last minute comeback. I'd be sure I had him, be miles ahead, and suddenly his killer back game would kick in and I'd be racing just to get a few more off.
John: And this told you what...?
Jennifer: That he'd be great in bed.
Jennifer: Oh yeah. And I was right.
John: And what else.
Jennifer: Well, I suppose what I should have picked up, what I did pick up but chose to ignore, was that I'd never be totally sure where I stood with him. In fact, truth be told, I should have seen it all coming. But lust is blind and self-deceiving.
John: And love?
Jennifer: Love's for those who like getting hurt.
John: Is that right?
Jennifer: Sure as day follows night. Love means opening up those secret areas so that the object of your affections can piss all over them.
John: Pretty cynical. It works for me.
Jennifer: So far.
John: I'm confident.
Jennifer: No, you're a fool.
John: So, you never loved Adam then?
Jennifer: I suppose I must have. It must have crept up on me when I wasn't looking.
John: So you're not in as much control as you'd like to think then?
Jennifer: Is anyone?
John: How did he come to move in.
Jennifer: I dunno.
We travelled together, laughed all the time, shared rooms half way
John: Didn't want to lose that great sex, eh?
Jennifer: Among other things. He was good company as well. He could be moody, I knew that, but it was a part of what made him attractive, you know. And, truth be told, I loved his music. The songs he wrote. They were so... piercing... sweeping... evocative. They chimed with something inside me. They all seemed to be about my feelings, my life.
John: That must have been flattering.
Jennifer: Oh no, they weren't about me. In fact, the ones he wrote while we were together weren't the ones that got me. He seemed to be trying too hard. It was the songs he'd already written. Did you ever hear any of them?
John: Harry forced me to listen to a tape once. I didn't like them much. The lyrics seemed to be about nothing.
Jennifer: Or everything.
John: Well, if you want to be charitable. I thought he was just stringing buzz-words together. Leaving everything open. They sounded impressive but actually, underneath...
Jennifer: There was nothing there.
Jennifer: Well, you were right there.
John: And, you know, I heard the tape in the background a few times as well. Harry tried really hard to get into it.
John: Oh yeah.
Jennifer: And did she?
John: No. And you know what; I can't remember how a single one of the melodies went. Nothing hooked me.
Jennifer: Oh well. Good. At least I won't have to see his smarmy grin on Top of the Pops then.
John: Not unless you move to
Jennifer: Look at bloody oom-pah.
They both laugh.
Jennifer: It was alright though, you know, living with Adam. I mean, sure he was lazy and never did anything to help around the house. And sometimes he'd get in these black moods and spend all day sulking and stropping round the house. But I liked it. I liked having him around. I got accustomed to his face. I was an idiot.
Jennifer: Then I got pregnant.
John: How'd that happen? Was it deliberate?
Jennifer: God, no! We used precautions. All sorts of them. I guess one of his boys had that extra bit of fight in him. So once I missed my second period -
Jennifer: Well, I'm a bit erratic so I thought the first one was just one of those things. But after the second, I got myself a test, and, well, there it was. Two little blue lines. So I told him, that night. And you know what? All his confidence, his cool suave charm. It just fell away. Suddenly he was just this frightened little child, petulant and sulking.
John: What did you expect?
Jennifer: I don't know. I mean, I knew it was going to come as a shock. We weren't planning it. But I thought... I thought we'd go the distance, so it wouldn't be that big a deal.
John: What did he say?
Jennifer: Nothing. Not for a long time. Well, it was probably only a couple of minutes but it felt like a long time. Then he said I'll pay. You don't have to. I'll pay. And for a moment. Just for a moment. I thought he meant he'd pay for the child, for its upbringing. But of course that wasn't what he meant at all.
John: Pretty harsh.
Jennifer: Yeah, and no. I suppose he just assumed I'd want to get rid of it. Same as I assumed he'd want to keep it. There was a lot of assumption going round.
Jennifer: I told him I wasn't sure if I wanted to. I needed time to think. He said I'd better think quick as it was already there, growing, and there were legal time limits and all that.
John: What a bastard.
Jennifer: No. At least he was honest. And I think that's the primary responsibility for the man at that point. To drop the bullshit and tell the truth. So I wasn't angry. Not at that point.
John: Then when?
Jennifer: I'm getting there. Chill out. Skin up.
John: We're not going round that again are we?
Jennifer: Okay, I'll do it. (She does so as she continues) You pour some more wine.
Jennifer: I made an appointment at the Marie Stokes clinic. He drove me there, somewhat reluctantly. It was pissing with rain. I made him stay outside in the car. A form of punishment. I was going to have to suffer so why shouldn't he. It would probably have been crueller to invite him in. Then he'd have had to deal with the questions. Face the brutal biology. Half an hour later, having been patronised by an assortment of really very nice female doctors and one slightly less nice male one I came out. He was asleep in the driver's seat. As I got in the car he gave me a look that I couldn't quite interpret. It was somewhere between concern and disgust, with a tinge of regret.
John: You got all that from one look?
Jennifer: No, I read all that into one look. He was probably just waking up. I told him that I had an appointment for a fortnight's time. He asked how I was, how it was. I said it was all fine, nothing to worry about. We drove home, pretty much in silence. We got into the house and I wanted to be alone; to go to my room and cry. He said he'd had a new idea for a tune. He wanted to play it to me. As if nothing extraordinary had happened that day. Which it hadn't, for him.
John: So what was the song about? His feelings at being a father?
Jennifer: Yeah, that would have been nice, wouldn't it! No, it was a song about a raven haired girl with mysterious eyes and ebony skin. He said he'd had a dream about her. I remember thinking it must have been a wet dream. Darkest places. He wanted to touch her in her darkest places. That was the chorus. It stuck in my mind.
John: That'll be the one that goes to number one then!
Jennifer: Yeah, wouldn't that just be life at its shittiest.
John: Or most typical.
Jennifer: I told him that I liked it, but that I was tired, needed a rest. He said he'd make me dinner, which he didn't. I came up here, lay on the bed, and cried my eyes out. I don't know why. I didn't want a baby, not really, but something inside me knew I was killing something. Murdering.
John: I don't see it that way.
Jennifer: Well of course you fucking don't. You're a man. How could you ever know how it feels?
Jennifer: Good. You should be. Don't ever presume to tell a woman how she feels about her pregnancy. You'll never ever understand it.
John: I said I'm sorry.
Jennifer: After I'd cried long enough I just felt cold, empty, like life had faded to grey and left me alone. So I... I just wanted to feel something, you undertand?
John: I think so.
Jennifer: I took this....
She reaches into her bedside table and pulls out a razor blade.
Jennifer: And slowly, deliberately, I cut myself. Not deeply, just enough to draw blood. To feel it flow.
John: Jesus Jen!
Jennifer: I cut myself in my inner thigh. Like Portia. I touched the blood with my finger. Tasted it. Cut myself again, deeper this time. It felt... real.
John: I... I...
Jennifer: I'm making you sick. I'm sorry. You must think I'm disgusting, or mad, or something.
John: No. No. Not at all. When I was younger, first year in halls, I was so lonely. I couldn't connect with anyone. I was drunk on gin. I put a cigarette out on the back of my hand. Like you say, to feel something, to distract my brain from the mental self flagellation.
John: Really. Look, you can still see the scar.
He holds out his hand and she takes it and examines it.
Jennifer: Yeah. I see it. Wow. You're full of surprises aren't you? Do you want to see my scars?
John: Where are they?
She takes his hand and places it under her skirt.
Jennifer: Can you feel them?
John: Not really.
Jennifer: Not there. Here.
John: Oh. Oh yeah. I feel them.
Jennifer: And here.
She moves his hand to her groin beneath the skirt. He freezes. He was expecting underwear.
John: Jen, I...
Jennifer: Shhh. Just feel.
John: I can't. Harry. She'll... I can't.
Jennifer: Don't you like it? I'm wet. You can feel that, can't you?
Jennifer: Kiss me.
He pulls his hand out and stands up.
John: I'd better go wake Harriet.
Jennifer: (quietly, vulnerable) Don’t. Please don't. I'm sorry. It's the drink. I'm sorry. I just thought you might want to.
John: I do want to. Of course I do. It's not that. You know it isn't.
Jennifer: Please, stay. You haven't heard the end of the story. I'd like to finish it. To tell someone.
John pauses. He is torn.
Jennifer: Adam drove me to the clinic. I didn't want him to stay. I didn't need the extra mental hassle, if you know what I mean. We got there early. Stupidly early. Like a check in for a flight. I knew I was way too early, but he was in a funny mood and I just wanted to get out of the house. He said he'd pick me up at six. That was the time the clinic said I'd be done by. He didn't look back as he drove away. I remember that 'cause it pissed me off. Anyway, I was sat in the waiting room reading one of their out of date magazines when one of the nurses said that they'd had a cancellation. She said I could go in now if I wanted. I said Yes. Let's get it over with. So she led me into a room and my legs went up in the stirrups and... well, I did it. I... terminated. I didn't cry. It didn't even really hurt. No more than my tattoo. Afterwards I lay on a bed behind a curtain for a while. A nurse came and brought me a glass of water. I said I wanted to go home. She got me the pay-phone and I rang Adam. There was no answer. It was only . I assumed he was out shopping. I rang for a taxi. Got home at four. When I walked in there was loud music on upstairs. I came up here to lie down. (she laughs to herself) To lie down. He was here. In the bed. With someone else. An ebony girl. With raven hair, and mysterious eyes.
John: God! Harry never said.
Jennifer: Of course not.
John: What did you do?
Jennifer: What do you think I did? I freaked out. Threw half the things in the room at him. Broke my laughing Buddha on his head. Irony, eh? She screamed and called me a crazy bitch. I lunged at her to tear her fucking raven hair right out of her ebony scalp. He got in between us. I scratched him hard, on his face. Drew blood. He hit me. Not with his fist, with an open hand. I fell to the floor. I started bleeding from between my legs. I don't know if it was the razor cuts or the operation or both. But there was blood. Enough to stain the skirt I was wearing. He told her to go. Said he'd call her. Right there, in front of me. Said he'd call her. His guitar was in the corner of the room. I picked it up and smashed it on the floor, again and again. He just stood there, stunned. It was like I'd finally killed a baby that he gave a shit about. Well, I had, I suppose. He didn't say much. Didn't hit me again. He just called me a crazy bitch. Then he turned and left the bedroom. I heard him banging around downstairs. Then, ten minutes later, the front door slamming. I never saw him again.
John: Oh Jen. I had no idea.
Jennifer: (beginning to cry) I threw up. Then I lay here in my own blood and tears and vomit. I didn't feel angry any more. Or upset. I just felt cold. Sterile. Ugly. That was two weeks ago. I still feel that way now. I can still smell the sick, all the time. I feel worthless. Unlovable. Who'd love a stupid murdering bitch like me, eh? Stupid, stupid, psycho Jennifer. Oh for god's sake, hold me will you.
John puts his arms around her. She holds him tight, sobbing into his chest.
John: It's okay. Let it out. It's okay.
Jennifer: (Through tears) Is there any of that joint left?
John: Here. It's gone out in the ashtray.
She takes a deep toke, exhales. They are still holding each other. She looks into his eyes. He kisses her forehead. Then her temple. She looks up to him. He kisses her on the mouth, gently, a peck. It develops into a full kiss. They part, neither of them speaks, he cuddles her again.
Jennifer: Kiss me again. Make me feel beautiful.
He does, more passionately this time, with more abandon. She takes his hand and presses it to her breast. He tenses, tries to pull away.
Jennifer: No. No. You don't stop. Not now.
John: I can't.
Jennifer: You want to. I can feel it when you kiss me.
John: Want has nothing to do with it. I just can't.
Jennifer: Not can't, won't.
John: Okay, I won't.
Jennifer: Yes. Yes you will.
John: I won't.
Jennifer: You will. If you don't, I'll go downstairs and wake my big sister and tell her you attacked me.
He pulls away, suddenly shocked.
Jennifer: I'll tell her you tried to force yourself on me.
John: What? Why?
Jennifer: To get you to do what you want to do.
John: She won't believe you.
Jennifer: Yes she will. And if she doesn't, I'll get her to smell your fingers.
He looks at his hand, as if it belongs to someone else.
John: Don't be stupid, Jen.
Jennifer: Fuck me.
John: That's crazy.
Jennifer: Didn't I tell you? I'm a psycho bitch.
John: She won't believe you.
Jennifer: You sure you want to take that risk?
He stands there in silence, caught by her fork. She takes two sashes from the top of the bed. She ties her left wrist to the bedpost.
Jennifer: Tie the other one.
He stands frozen.
Jennifer: Tie the other one.
Still nothing. She lets out a half scream.
Jennifer: Harry! Help!
He leaps towards her, plants his hand over her mouth.
John: Shut up! For Christ’s sake, shut up.
Jennifer: Tie my other wrist.
Trembling, he ties her other wrist.
Jennifer: You see, not so hard is it?
John: Don't do this.
Jennifer: Tear my top off.
Jennifer: Tear my top off. I won't ask again.
He reaches for her top. He pauses with it in his hands. They look at each other.
Jennifer: (soft, but firm) Do it.
He tears her top off and begins to ravish her, abandoning all his doubts. He goes down on her and we see her throw her head back and close her eyes.
Jennifer: Oh, you're good. That's so good. Oh yes. Take me. Take me hard.
He unties the sashes and forces her down onto the bed. He raises himself over her, still fully dressed, she undoes his shirt buttons and forces his shirt back over his shoulders.
Jennifer: Bite me. Bite my nipples.
He does. She groans with pleasure. She writhes under him for a moment and then their positions are reversed. She sits astride him, and undoes his flies. She spreads her skirt over his groin and sits astride him. He groans as she forces him into her. She begins to fuck him, hard and fast, almost brutal.
Jennifer: Dig your nails into my back. Hurt me.
John: Oh god, yes!
Jennifer: You like that?
Jennifer: Tell me you like it.
John: I love it. Oh god, I love it.
She is riding him hard now, beating her pelvis down onto him. He lets out odd yelps of pain.
Jennifer: Am I hurting you?
John: Yes. Don't stop.
He digs his nails into her back and pulls her down onto him, returning her thrusts with equal fury (all is hidden by the skirt). He sits up, throwing her onto her back, turning her so her head is on the pillows.
John: You like that?
Jennifer: Yes. Yes.
John: You want more.
Jennifer: Harder. Fuck me harder.
She has her hands up behind her head, under the pillows.
Jennifer: Let me go on top. I can't cum if I'm not on top.
He lies back, obligingly. He has his head off the end of the bed, facing the audience. She is astride him, grinding now, her hands behind her back. She is nearing orgasm. So is he. He closes his eyes, squeezes to prevent his orgasm.
John: Not yet. Not yet.
Jennifer: John. Look at me. John.
She pulls a gun from behind her back, spins the barrel and points it at his head. He opens his eyes, sees the gun and his eyes widen in a mixture of terror and delight.
Jennifer: Make a wish.
She squeezes the trigger, the hammer pulls back.
End of Act One.
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