BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

A Play in One Act
Jay Crisostomo IV

“Ultimately, everything is forgiven in advance.”
– Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Characters:
MAN
WOMAN

Setting:
A motel room.

The Play:

(Stage lights open to reveal a bare motel room. On stage-left a door with a phone adjacent to it. On stage right another door leading to the lavatory. A small coffee table stands before the lavatory door; containing condoms, soap, and sachets of shampoo. On centre is what should be in centre: a well-sized bed fitted with fresh linens and two pillows. A connoisseur of sexual trysts would describe the room plain, bordering on tacky, but at the very least clean. )

(A WOMAN enters through the door from the hallway; closing it afterwards. She could still be called attractive, beautiful even, though she is well past her sexual prime. She wears a simple, well-fitting black dress and carries a red back pack. She stops on dead centre, below the bed. Silence follows, she checks her breathing. After a moment, she throws a sideward glance at the doorknob she just used to close the door. Nothing happens. She gets a cigarette case from the front pocket of her bag and carelessly drops the bag on the bed. She procures a cigarette and places it in her mouth. Tries the lighter attached to the cigarette case. It does not work.)

WOMAN: Fuck.

(The doorknob suddenly turns. The woman purposefully turns her back on the door as if she wants to be caught in a pose by the person on the other side. The doorknob returns to its original state. The WOMAN hastily returns the cigarette back in the case. Another false attempt at the doorknob.)

WOMAN: If you won’t come in, I’ll go. I’ll leave and you will never see me again, is that what you want?

(The doorknob remains still.)

WOMAN: Okay. That’s it. (Gets her bag) See you in the next life. (Turns toward the hallway door)

(The MAN enters swiftly and obediently like a dog. He carries an attache case. It is evident that he was handsome before, and that he could be handsome still despite his age, but he is too emaciated, too world-worn to rank well in any category of beauty . An aura of sickness lingers around him.)

(The WOMAN is faced to the MAN. Their eyes meet. She remedies the situation by slowly turning back and returning to her pose much like the female romantic lead in a noir film. The MAN stares at her, his mouth agape, dumbstruck.)

MAN: I never thought… After what happened… That you’d be okay with this.

WOMAN: Idiot, close the door.

MAN: Yes, ma’am. (Follows orders)

WOMAN: Do you have it with you?

MAN: Everything you asked for (Taps the attache case). All here. Plus a little extra.

WOMAN: Before this is all through, take the extra. I don’t want it. I don’t need it.

(Silence.)

MAN: Shall we get started then?

WOMAN: Take a bath. You stink of plastic.

MAN: I’m sorry.

WOMAN: Don’t apologize. Be a man. (A beat) Take a bath.

MAN: Should I just leave this here?

WOMAN: Don’t worry we had a deal. I won’t run off.

MAN: Yes, yes. I understand. I trust you. (Puts the attache case gently on the floor, and walks towards the lavatory)

WOMAN: (When beside the MAN) Do you have a light?

MAN: Sure. (Gets an expensive lighter from his coat pocket)

(The WOMAN puts a cigarette to her mouth. The MAN lights it. The WOMAN takes a deep drag and exhales the smoke in a filament wisp, her mouth pouts out.)

MAN: Your lips. They’re beautiful. You look like you’re kissing a ghost.

WOMAN: Did I ask you?

MAN: I’m sorry.

WOMAN: Take a bath. I can’t stand your stench.

MAN: May I smoke too?

WOMAN: You may definitely not smoke.

MAN: I understand. (Walks closer towards the lavatory)

WOMAN: Take your clothes off.

MAN: (Without turning towards the WOMAN) I’m ashamed.

WOMAN: With what we’re going to do next, you have no right to be ashamed. Take your clothes off.

MAN: (Takes off his coat, starts unbuttoning his shirt, starts feeling awkward) You know, I’m very happy you agreed. You don’t know how many of the girls I called. I called Janine, you know her right? The ballerina who broke her leg. She was my last. Do you know what she did when I asked her about this? She called the cops! (Laughs to himself but stops when he notices the WOMAN remaining stoic) Doesn’t matter though, I’m glad it’s you. In some twisted sense, this is right… Destined, that’s the word. It has to be you.

WOMAN: Did I tell you to talk?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Did I ask about your life? Do you think I’m interested?

MAN: I hoped you would be, given the circumstances.

WOMAN: I don’t. Take off your shirt. Your shoes. Your pants.

(The MAN follows.)

WOMAN: Now, the rest.

MAN: I’m afraid.

WOMAN: Of what?

MAN: That you’ll laugh at me. I’m not young as before. Not as healthy. Not as groomed.

WOMAN: Are you afraid that you’ll stink? That I will think you are dirty? Perverted? I already know all those things, and I am still here. You have nothing to be afraid of. (Drops the cigarette, and grinds it with her heel)

MAN: I really want to smoke.

WOMAN: I will tell you when you deserve a cigarette.

(The MAN takes off his underwear and faces the WOMAN, his testicles and penis have been deformed by some sort of sickness.)

MAN: How do I look?

WOMAN: You’re disgusting. Sick, old, and rotten. And, I’m still here. I haven’t moved an inch. (Examines the MAN, who in turn shies away) I have been waiting for a long time to see you like this. Naked. Really naked that you can’t even look at my face. And now I know what you saw in all those girls. All us girls. I understand your life’s worth of philandering. Seeing someone naked, truly naked, is like looking into a person’s soul, like eating it. Souls are delicious. (Smells the MAN) You’re like pungent cheese.

MAN: I really want to smoke. (Enters the lavatory)

(Water is heard flowing from inside.)

WOMAN: You can’t smoke, you silly man. You silly plastic man. Plastic burns, melts, and that stench, that horrible stench is just a harbinger of the horrible ways fire can disfigure plastic. It’s your fault. You know that, there’s no one to blame but you. Before, for a time, you were like me: flesh, bone, and sinew— alive! Yes, the living grow old so fast; beauty is God’s most cruel joke, so they say. Oh, we could have grown so old and ugly together! To slowly be ruined by gravity, by cruel, cruel time and maybe we would have been happy… (Sits down on the bed) But you chose the easy way out. You chose to be plastic Suddenly, one day, without warning, you woke up and decided to turn plastic. You got a plastic job, a plastic life, a plastic wife and even molded plastic kids. Yes, the smiles last longer but nothing’s real with plastic. The real smile, that wink of the soul, that fire in the heart, those things do not exist behind dead plastic smiles! And you knew, deep down, that you weren’t happy so you slept with plastic mistresses and plastic prostitutes so you can cut through your cheeks and maybe make that plastic smile a little bit wider. Fuck!

MAN: (Enters, a towel tied to his waist) I choose to be real now. That’s why I called you.

WOMAN: How many women have you had since me?

MAN: I don’t know.

WOMAN: Come on, all men count! Lie and you’ll never see me again. Tonight is about being real.

MAN: Four—

WOMAN: —Prude—

MAN: —hundred and twenty-two.

WOMAN: (Walks up to the man) Slut. (Slaps him)

MAN: You asked me to be honest. To be real.

WOMAN: (Continues slapping the MAN) You’re a slut. You’d fuck anything with a hole in it. Have you done a bottle? A toilet? A paper shredder? Oh, I’m sure they all enjoyed your sorry excuse for a dick. And, all of them moaned with pleasure (Her slapping increases with force, speed, and intensity) I can Imagine all those moans. Those sighs. Those moments of bliss that should have been mine! (Stops slapping the MAN) My hand hurts. (Turns away)

MAN: Ask me how many women I’ve ever had?

WOMAN: What?

MAN: Ask me the number of women I’ve ever had in my entire life?

WOMAN: So what? So you can humiliate me more?

MAN: Humor me. Please.

WOMAN: How many?

MAN: Four hundred and twenty-three. You were my first, and you are the only one I care to remember. Whenever I close my eyes, I see you naked, your ass towards me. Your face peeking over your shoulder.

(Silence.)

WOMAN: Where would you like to start?

MAN: You tell me. I’m paying for the end. You decide where to start.

WOMAN: Are you sure, you can handle this? All of this? Once we start, we have to finish. Those were your instructions. No safe word. No safety.

MAN: Yes. I wrote and re-wrote that e-mail so many times.

WOMAN: Would you like to begin?

(The MAN hands the red backpack to the WOMAN. The WOMAN takes an old patchwork quilt from the bag. She lays it in front of the MAN and takes a demure manner— quite in contrast to the powerful figure before.)

MAN: (Sits down on the quilt) I am twenty-one, fresh from cadet training, the damned luckiest bunch of soldiers to matriculate from the academy just when the war was won. You are fourteen, the daughter of an affable retired general who teaches at the academy; but a bud of a flower and it wasn’t only I who foresaw the eventual blooming of this unique bud.

WOMAN: (Sits down with the MAN) You approached me like all the other handsome faces in uniform but unlike them who introduced themselves as second class private, or sergeant, or communications officer, or whatever senseless thing to a fourteen year old girl, you took my hand, and told me you were—

MAN: I told you what I was (Taking the WOMAN’s hand) what was me, beneath the uniform, and family name, down, down to my most secret self. And I offered you every humble gift that secret self could offer.

WOMAN: You told me you were a storyteller. And then and there, all the other faces in uniform disappeared, the world vanished, and there was only you holding my hand. (Takes her hand) I fell in love. How could I not? You offered a fourteen year old girl stories.

MAN: I told you of great wars, and kings and queens, and dragons, and fairies. I told you about adventures beyond what lay beyond your father’s walls.

WOMAN: Yes, I can still see it all. All the fantasies you conjured on a simple quilt carpet beneath the giant willow tree. I can still hear my Aunt Margaret’s fake snoring and remember how she would blush when your stories took on a naughtier side.

MAN: Can you see beyond these walls now? Can we have adventures beyond them?

(A pause.)

WOMAN: Idiot, right now I am your whore and you are my master. There can be no adventures behind these walls.

MAN: Maybe just a premise for another story?

WOMAN: It was never the stories I was interested with. It was the storyteller. When you told me about the bluest lakes which held secret treasures, I saw your eyes. When you talked of desserts that are like mazes where no man can step out alive, I heard your goodbyes. How painful those things were! I was so afraid you would one day say goodbye and just disappear. And you did, you did, and that storyteller never came back.

(A pause.)

MAN: There was once a soldier and a girl. They liked spending time together. Much more time than the girl’s Aunt Margaret wanted. And they spent their daily thirty minutes, their eternity which was never enough, in a kingdom marked by quilt. There, they were somehow invisible to people who did not understand love. As if surrounded by a magic forcefield where they had their private language and private dances that only they could understand. One day, one terrible day, the girl asked the soldier what virginity was and how it is given. The soldier smiled, what else could he do? He held her hand and said. (Holds her hand)

WOMAN: When you are older, I would like to give you a very different answer. But for now this is how I give my virginity to you, and you to me. (Plays with the WOMAN’s fingers) It is a promise that one day these hands will hold again and will never be far from one another. That these hands will one day be given access beyond the cuff, the sleeve, and the collar.

MAN: And the girl was not satisfied. She got mad. She slapped him, as hard as she could. Though it was a young girl’s slap, a pat really for a soldier, it felt harsher and more cruel than the physical training he got from the academy. She was so mad because she got it into her head, from the servants maybe, that virginity is the greatest gift a girl could give to the man she loved. And this man who she loves—

WOMAN: —Loved.

MAN: —Loved her very deeply was treating her like a child, treating her profoundest gift as a mere trifle.

WOMAN: They did not meet again for four years… But the girl always kept the man’s image in her heart, anxious to fulfill the promise between their hands. (Stands to get something from the backpack)

MAN: So did the man.

(The WOMAN pauses.)

MAN: Did you hear what I said? I said I kept you as you kept me. Silent, my heart raptured with death wails for your hand! For that unforgotten promise.

WOMAN: Should I go on?

MAN: (Stands) I asked you, whore. Do you acknowledge the fact that I did not forget you our four years apart?

WOMAN: And I asked you, should I go on?

MAN: (Clearing up the quilt) This was our kingdom and you treat it like a common rag.

WOMAN: Kingdoms crumble and flying carpets do not exist. You see a story is only as good as the storyteller. And a storyteller cannot even tell a story if he leaves! (Gets the quilt and stuffs it in the bag) And leaves! And fucks! (A pause) I asked you. Should I go on?

MAN: Please.

WOMAN: Is this what you want?

MAN: This was the bargain. We agreed. Stories for a self.

WOMAN: (Sighs) And the kingdom crumbled. Only in whispers could its thousand secret wonders be glimpsed. Four years passed and the girl turned into something indescribable.
MAN: Turned into you. I’m sorry.

WOMAN: (Paces) And the girl was torn violently from her innocence, her youth traded for forgetfulness, and slowly that primrose turned into me! To this horrible thing you see before you. Cracked, imperfect, unhappy, because men need to go places, because they bore of their current stories and crave for better lies. Why did you leave, plastic man!

MAN: (Sits on the bed, covers his face) I’m sorry—

WOMAN: You knew what would happen didn’t you?

MAN: I’m just a damned fool. Just like all of them out there; tail chasers with no right to anything. Just a damned fool.

WOMAN: You were the fool. I was damned. You heard what happened to you? Didn’t you? Oh, I was the prettiest fuck of the town!

MAN: Yes. Yes. I’m sorry. Yes, I know.

WOMAN: Tell me a story. Tell me this awful, awful part of your grand story. Tell me what you heard.

MAN: Can we not? Please, it’s too painful.

WOMAN: (Grabs the MAN) No safeties. No safe word. Once we start we have to finish. That’s what you wanted right. Now tell me what you heard.

MAN: You went out looking for me.

WOMAN: And, I didn’t find you. Then what?

MAN: Then you got lost.

WOMAN: Stop mincing words, I’m not that innocent bitch by the willow tree anymore. Tell me the mother fucking story.

MAN: (Grabs the WOMAN’s throat, the balance of power shifts) You took every pill they gave you. You enjoyed every fleeting ecstasy At first no one knew, but stories that juicy, the general’s daughter turned addict, they’re just too good not to share. This rich Lolita roams the street every night, fresh from the comforts of her cushy life, down to back alleys looking for a man no one has heard of, and when when she didn’t get the answer she wanted, she asked, begged, for pills. for syringes, for exotic powders that she needed to escape.

WOMAN: The intoxication of your so called love.

MAN: (Spits on the WOMAN’s face) Don’t interrupt me. (Slowly but with obvious pleasure, he puts a finger down her throat) Soon, not even two years has passed, your family abandoned you. Your father was so ashamed of his once pride and joy. The steady supply of drugs that you now needed to survive could only be afforded by flesh. Your beautiful flesh, your supple, young flesh. By dumpsters you’d gag on filthy man-meat, and drink down the payment with sperm.

WOMAN: (Gagging) I took it all. The humiliation. I was less than dirt.

MAN: (Retracts his finger) Was it worth it?

WOMAN: It was far easier to forget than to forgive. Where were you.

MAN: I was always there; watching.

WOMAN: You could have saved me.

MAN: I didn’t want to. Not yet. I was preparing you for our next encounter. (Walks away) Behind every deal, there is a dealer. I was educating you for my own pleasures.

WOMAN: I remember the worst thing. The most horrible deed I had to commit. I became property to the African. He was so rich. So powerful. And he treated me like trash. When it pleased him, he ripped me open with his organ, he didn’t care when I bled. I think he even enjoyed it, took pleasure in my tears. He would only feed me if I made him come. He fed me three times a day. He only bathed me if I walked around his garden for all his neighbors to see… like his naked bitch, peeing with one leg up, defecating on flower beds. I was bathed daily. He would only clothe me if I made him happy. I was always cold.

MAN: Finally, after all his perversions have been realized and you were boring to him, you were given to friends, and for a week they fucked you, filled every hole, tired your hands, numbed your tongue.

WOMAN: You knew… You really knew everything… That week I was a rag doll. I felt nothing. Was nothing. I just hated you. I wanted to burn you alive and dance to your screams.

MAN: You were put into a box and the next thing you saw was me.

WOMAN: I was so stupid. After all that, even if I somehow knew you were behind everything—

MAN: — That in the poetry of naïveté, I awakened you to fulfill a promise made four years ago—

WOMAN: — I kissed you so hard. (Steps towards the MAN)

MAN: (Steps towards the WOMAN) You made my lips bleed.

WOMAN: I bruised you with my caresses (Leans in for kiss)

MAN: (Teases the WOMAN’s lips with his breath) May I kiss you?

WOMAN: Do you want to?

MAN: Yes.

WOMAN: I am paid for. Why not just do it?

MAN: I want you to allow me.

WOMAN: Plainly, tell me, no more poetry, where were you?

MAN: I told you. I was always close by.

WOMAN: What did you do? Tell me or I’ll bite off your tongue.

MAN: What if I want to be hurt? What if I want you to make me bleed.

WOMAN: Tell me.

MAN: I was making a man out of myself.

WOMAN: As what?

MAN: (Steps back) A drug dealer.

(The WOMAN slaps the MAN)

WOMAN: You wanted to tear my skin, scar my flesh, make me imperfect so I could be what? What? An acceptable lover?

MAN: No! Definitely not!

WOMAN: Then why did you leave me for dead!

MAN: I wanted to long for you. I wanted to be hurt by seeing you used when I loved you so much.

WOMAN: Why?

MAN: Because men like me, we don’t deserve perfect. We deserve run-of-the-mill, factory-patented. Nothing as unconditional as you. Nothing so passionate. Nothing as perfect.

(A silence.)

WOMAN: Let’s stop. Put on your clothes. (Gets her bag)

MAN: You can’t. (Holds the WOMAN’s arm)

WOMAN: Because I promised? So what? You made a lot of promises. None were kept.

(The MAN and WOMAN struggle. The MAN on her. The WOMAN to the door.)

MAN: Hold my hand.

WOMAN: I don’t want to. I’m leaving.

MAN: Don’t leave. Hold my hand.

WOMAN: Good bye! (Reaches the doorknob of the door to the hallway)

MAN: (Stops the WOMAN, forces his hand on hers, puts his weight on her) This is my promise. It’s not only about sex. I’ve kept it all these years. When I had the others, it was always in the dark, and my my mind was free to imagine what my heart saw.

(A silence.)

WOMAN: Lie down on the bed.

(The MAN follows meekly.)

WOMAN: Don’t face me. Lie on your stomach. I don’t want you to look.

(The MAN follows.)

WOMAN: Are you ready?
MAN: Yes.

WOMAN: Again, is this what you want?

MAN: Yes.

(The WOMAN takes off her clothes. She is now only in her underwear. She lies on the MAN’s back, her own towards the audience.)

WOMAN: For four years you were a peddled in hallucinogenics. (Starts to strangle him) You made innocents see artificial stars. You blinded us with false light.

MAN: You were my only drug. My only star. My only light.

WOMAN: You were a storyteller right? You wanted to be a writer didn’t you. Come on, you can do better than that.

MAN: Sorry. The truth always sounds cliche.

WOMAN: Are you seeing stars now?

MAN: Not yet. Strangle me tighter. Dig your nails into my neck.

WOMAN: Do you think this repentance? Do you think this is enough. (Her grip tightens)

MAN: May I masturbate?

WOMAN: No.

MAN: No. I cannot ask for forgiveness. I am beyond that. I just wish to remember.

WOMAN: (Further tightens her grip) Remember what you allowed them to do to me. Remember how I became a mindless plaything. Remember your fucking mind games.

MAN: (Can barely breathe) I didn’t play with you. I was the plaything. I was cruel fate’s pawn.

WOMAN: Look at me. (Turns the man so they are face to face) How were you the pawn? Did they put things inside you? Break things inside you? Break you so hard that you need to slide a cutter down your organ to feel anything?

MAN: I can’t… Breathe…

WOMAN: This is what you wanted, isn’t? A story. Your story. Well this is how it ends!

MAN: (Throws the WOMAN aside, she lands on the floor) Not yet. Not yet. It’s not yet over. (Catches his breath) Who do you think threw me away? I didn’t want to go. But the general didn’t think I was enough for his princess so he put a gun to my head and he talked. I couldn’t move. He just said things about ranks and stations and putting one’s head down when the occasion called for it. And then, then he pulled the trigger. The barrel was empty but I still pissed myself. He laughed so hard. It was the funniest joke in the world. I was the funniest joke in the world. (Manically imitates the general) Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha! (Calms) Then he loaded the pistol. He told me to run, never look back. Last thing I remember was that he called me trash.

WOMAN: But it wasn’t him who loved you. Why did you care about what he thought? I did. I loved you. I gambled and lost!
MAN: Don’t you get it? I wanted to deserve you! And peddling drugs was the easiest way I knew how to… I was so low and you were up there, so very high that I could barely see your wings.

WOMAN: So you decided to drag me down?

MAN: (Sits up) How do you think I got the capital for the drugs. It was the African. Everything he did to you, he did to me ten times, fifteen times, because I was not a woman, because I was not beautiful. You say he humiliated you, treated you like an animal. Oh it was for pleasure, With me, he didn’t even care. You, he had fun hurting. Me, he just hurt… to show me how small I was, how insignificant I was. (Helps the WOMAN up) I was not a proud man. I still do not have anything to be proud about. But I’m here and I hope I could be with you, genuinely, even if it is the last time. See me. Not the stories. Not the lies. finally, I can look into your eyes. (Shields his tears)

WOMAN: Hey, plastic man.

(The MAN turns away. The WOMAN gets a small white pill from her bag, and takes a red pill.)

WOMAN: Plastic man, I’m calling you. I want you to look at me.

(The MAN looks at the WOMAN.)

WOMAN: May I kiss you? (Puts the red pill on the tip of her tongue)

(The MAN looks at the WOMAN in disbelief.)

WOMAN: Take what you want… I allow you.

(The MAN kisses the WOMAN, and swallows the pill.)

WOMAN: Do you know what that was?

MAN: Yes.

WOMAN: There’s really no turning back now.

MAN: May I have you?

WOMAN: (Pulls the MAN closer) Stop asking. I want you to take. Order me around. Take me however way you want.

(A pause.)

WOMAN: Go. You don’t have much time.

(The MAN hungrily kisses the WOMAN’s body like a penitent to a saint.)

WOMAN: Yes! Lavish me with your lips. Ravage me with your hands. Take your fill. Make me moan. Make me wonder why you’re not fucking me yet. Make me beg for it.

(The MAN removes the WOMAN’s panties.)

WOMAN: Infect me. Make me sick with your menagerie of whores. Share their dirt. Share your shame. Fuck me. Fuck me. Dirty me with your stench.

(The MAN silently looks at the WOMAN.)

WOMAN: What’s wrong? Don’t you want me anymore?

MAN: I don’t want to hurt you anymore than I already have.

WOMAN: (Pulling at the MAN’s organ from beneath the towel) Don’t you get it? I want you to hurt me. I want to feel.

(They have sex.)

WOMAN: (While being fucked) The world ends tomorrow, and I’m happy I’m with you. Let it all burn. Slowly. So we can writhe in glorious pain.

MAN: (While pounding the WOMAN) When I opened the box it was like receiving a gift from the gods. When I saw your eyes, your beautiful tear soaked eyes, I knew I was whole again. I wanted to be all the dashing princes, the chivalrous knights, all the great lovers you were introduced to under the willow tree. I wanted to share my crumbled kingdom with you.

WOMAN: And for awhile we did. We were kings and queens of broken dreams. Oh those stolen moments, stolen from a cruel father and a stupid game.

MAN: (Pauses for breath, plays with the WOMAN’s hair) I gave everything to you. In a humble apartment by the sea. I worked as a journalist, and every story I found in the outside world I brought home to you. Over a table, between four walls, we were the soldier and the girl again.

WOMAN: But we were no longer virgins. A story for a perversity! Do you remember that? Oh the things you ate from my body!

MAN: There’s no better spice than love.

WOMAN: And the blindfolds, the whips. Sometimes you would even ask to be my servant.

MAN: Like what we’re doing right now.

(The WOMAN disengages from the MAN’s flesh.)

WOMAN: No. Right now you are my slave. Slaves do what they are told with hate. Servants, with love. There is a difference.

MAN: Can we fuck like we did back then?

WOMAN: Back then? When you were already married to some socialite? When I was an affair you’d hidden in a box. I wasn’t even given a key. You told me if I left, I could never come back.

MAN: There were complications.

WOMAN: That you made. Drug dealer, and adulterer.

MAN: A drug dealer to an addict, and an adulterer to a slut. We made quiet a pair.

WOMAN: Did you ever love her?

MAN: I never loved her like I loved you. She was a means to an end. You were always my end.

WOMAN: I believe you. (Lies down)

(The MAN gently lies on top of the WOMAN. His body thrusts at her with long and deep strokes. While making love:)

MAN: I love you.

WOMAN: Don’t say that.

MAN: But I do.

WOMAN: How do I know this isn’t just another story? Another lie?

MAN: You can’t. You just have to trust me.

WOMAN: Please don’t make me fall in love with you all over again.

MAN: But I cannot stop feeling the truth.

WOMAN: I’m about to come.

MAN: You’re not allowed to until you say it.

WOMAN: Say what?

MAN: That you love me. That at lease for tonight, I own you.

WOMAN: Please let me come.

MAN: Do you want me to stop?

WOMAN: Please! I’ve been dreaming about this for a lifetime.

MAN: Say it!

WOMAN: I love you! You own me! You have possessed me entirely! Take me! Take me harder! You own me!

(The WOMAN climaxes. The MAN pulls away. The two struggle to calm the torrent beating of their hearts.)

WOMAN: I’ve loved you since I was a child. I did not say it outright. I don’t think I ever have. I gave myself up to you. You owned me even before I knew what that meant. My history is my testament that I am strong enough to be owned. (Laughs) I was a child who embraced a starless night.

MAN: I abandoned you. Even after everything.

WOMAN: (Wraps her body with the blanket) Yes, you have a tendency to do that. At least you bought the apartment under my name.

MAN: I was a father. I had a name. I had to protect it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

WOMAN: (Goes to the side table and wipes her vagina with tissue paper) No. Because you already owned me. The excitement ran its course and the fantasy met its death.

MAN: Because the socialite was like the general and the African. They made me feel little so clawed my way up a little, and a little more, and I wanted to be on top so no one can make me feel small ever again.

WOMAN: And you’re there right now, aren’t you? Celebrated author. Laureate journalist. A champion of the wretched so the blurbs say! Oh if only they knew, plastic man. (Dresses up)

MAN: I started growing up. (Wraps himself with the towel)

WOMAN: Your muscles lost their strength. Your blood stopped flowing. You became a toy worse than I was. Plastic sealed, factory made. Another drone to keep the world turning. (Goes to the lavatory)

MAN: I sent you cheques! Even until now. I never forgot you. I always cared.

WOMAN: The first few months I opened those dead plastic envelopes with a piece of paper with numbers written on them. I spent your money. I did. I’m ashamed to admit it. I needed you even when you abandoned me. (Enters the room; her hair fixed) But I promised myself that I would pay you back one way or another. (Opens her bag gets a paper envelope) Here. Everything.

MAN: That’s yours.

WOMAN: Even with whores, there is something that is not sold. (Throws the paper envelope on the MAN’s body)

MAN: I have achieved nothing. I’m just a great liar, and you were the only truth in my life. That one constant that bound everything I did.

WOMAN: You did what you did, for yourself.

MAN: I wanted to see the stars. Fly higher than anyone. And, I got there, eventually. You know what? The stars are dead.

WOMAN: Storyteller, there is no use telling a story to an audience of none. The stars would have been alive, so vibrantly fucking pulsating-ly alive if you stayed with me. No, if you stayed with any one of us girls you used to get by.

MAN: Yes.

WOMAN: That’s all you can say? Stop agreeing. I proved myself through pain. I waited, and I waited, and I believed in you, of all people, you. I want to be that girl again. I want to look into your eyes and believe that not everything about you is fiction. Tell me that you love me. Tell me that I own you!

MAN: You do! You own this stupid little thing that sold his soul just to go a little bit higher.

WOMAN: I never loved you because you were ambitious. I just did. Unconditionally. Fuck, maybe I am the stupid one.

MAN: No. I am. I was the one who gave you up for a woman I could barely talk to; who had no passion, no fire.

WOMAN: Then you gave her up too. Once you’re so high every human being you come in contact with seem like dots, don’t they?

MAN: I became so greedy that I became so rich, so filthy… I can afford to buy this place and make it a church.

WOMAN: You bought women who you broke. It became a hobby to you. Word gets around in my circle.

MAN: Women who broke me. Every time, I fucked, I wasn’t fucking a stranger, I was fucking you. So I gave a little piece of my heart to every one of them until I had none for myself.

WOMAN: Whose fault was that?

MAN: Mine. O am the sole victimizer of my life. It’s all my fault. What you see before you: this weakened body, this body poxed by lust, by greed, and ambition was my making. Mine.

(A pause.)

WOMAN: Thank you for saying that. But I could have done something. I could have saved you. I knew. You’re quite popular.

MAN: At some point, I lost the will to be saved.

WOMAN: I should have… Maybe, I just didn’t love you enough to get hurt again.

MAN: Stop. Don’t make excuses for yourself. At least we met once more. That is indeed a solace in the end of a sinful life. (Lies down) I’ll tell you one thing, sinning is very exhausting.

WOMAN: Are you ready?

MAN: We’ve come to the end.

(The WOMAN empties the bag beside the man. Its contents include daggers, guns, and rope.)

WOMAN: Your choice.

MAN: May I request for something more intimate. Please use your hands.

WOMAN: (Looks at the attache case) Is everything there?

MAN: Check.

WOMAN: I don’t know why but it’s very easy to trust a man about to die.

MAN: Passports. Birth certificates. Pictures. Hand writing samples. Everything that was me. Everything that will prove that I ever was. It’s all there.

WOMAN: I trust you.

MAN: Please. I think I’m about to go.

(The WOMAN prepares to strangle the MAN.)

WOMAN: I did love you. You know that, right?

MAN: Prove it.

(The WOMAN chokes the MAN; puts all her weight on him.)

MAN: Yes, you love me. You love me enough to see me go.

WOMAN: Soon, I will go too. You’ve made me sick but at least you’re mine now. All mine. I don’t have to share anymore.

(Stands. Puts all the contents of the bag back. Gets the attache case.)

MAN: What are you doing? Finish what you started!

WOMAN: The pill. It was one of yours right. You can barely move now. It’s a miracle you’re still talking, but I think it has taken effect. I’m sorry I can’t kill you.

MAN: But we had a deal!

WOMAN: I am a storyteller too. I can make you believe me. I guess it’s easier to act when you’re just saying the truth. You die by your own means. That’s how you lived your life, right? That’s how it’s going to end as well. (Smiles) Consequences. (Kisses the MAN,) These four walls only create a fiction. Outside I can live for real (Opens the attache case and showers the MAN with money) Here’s the extra. I don’t need it. (Presents the attache case) With this I can recreate you. There’s a lot you can do with plastic surgery nowadays. With him, that new you, I can live the life you stole from me. If only for a while. Do you still want the cigarette>? (Exits through the lobby door)

MAN: (Struggles to move, to shout, cannot) Please… Please… Please…

(The phone by the lobby door starts to ring. Lights to a close.)

END | March 2015

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