A stage play in three acts
on the motives of
The Robber by Karel Čapek
(in order of appearance):
BRAD, a young man in his early twenties
GWEN, the housekeeper, in her forties
MIRIAM SIMONIDES (MIMI), about nineteen
BRIGITTA GYULAY, the town’s Mayor, a woman of the Aboriginal/Romany origin, about sixty
GARETH FITZPATRICK, a Probationary Police Constable, in his twenties
GEORGE, the neighbour, about fifty
SERGEANT SKINNER, Police Officer, in his forties
PROFESSOR QUENTIN SIMONIDES, over sixty
BETHANY SIMONIDES, his wife, mid fifties
The action takes place in a small Queensland township, once a much larger and flourishing gold mining town, which has now almost become a ghost town. Professor Simonides, who heads a department at the University in Brisbane, had once bought a block of land there, probably for next to nothing, on which he had built a two-storey house. The house, on the fringes of the sleepy town, has been built like a fortress. The professor uses it as a retreat for himself and his family, and perhaps intends to move there permanently on his retirement.
From the house we can only see a part with the balcony and a couple of windows with steel bars; the rest is covered by a massive wall, with a strong looking iron clad gate. There is a simple wooden bench on right.
(BRAD wanders onto the scene and walks to the wooden bench on the right side, where he decides to sit down. He has a hat on his head, with the ribbon hanging loose at the back, of which he doesn’t appear to be conscious. After a while, the door in the wall opens, through it comes GWEN. Onto the balcony above runs MIMI, she calls to GWEN)
MIMI: Wait a little, Gwen! (she disappears)
BRAD: You are to wait a little, Gwen.
GWEN: Fancy that. And who might you be, if I may ask?
BRAD: Who lives here?
GWEN: The Professor and his family. What d’you want ‘ere?
BRAD: Nothing. And where is the Professor?
GWEN: Is that any business of yours?
BRAD: Has he gone away?
GWEN: With his wife. What are you lookin’ for here?
BRAD: Ah… Nothing much. Mangos, maybe?
GWEN: You won’t find any decent ones here, I can tell you that much. At the other end of town, maybe. Sergeant Skinner will be at the Police Station, so he won’t see you if you pluck a few of his—
BRAD: I know. Thank you anyway, Gwen.
GWEN: Not at all.
(Enter MIMI. During the following scene she is well aware of BRAD’s presence, but pretends that she has not seen him. )
MIMI: Since you’re driving to town, Gwen, could you pick up some videos at the store. Something I haven’t seen yet.
GWEN: I’d say you’ve pretty much seen them all, by now, Mimi. But I’ll try, anyway. Maybe they’ve had some new ones arrived.
MIMI: That would be the day! You know the kind I like, don’t you?
GWEN: I know, I know. Just make sure you’re locked in properly, Mimi. There’s all sorts of—
MIMI: —Yes, I know… Just don’t forget to look for the videos, ask if they have any new ones. And would you know; do they sell USB flash drives at the Post Office?
GWEN: What’s it look like?
MIMI: You know, the little sticks that go into the computer. Cost maybe ten dollars, or perhaps even less. Just ask for a USB drive.
GWEN: I’ll forget that.
MIMI: OK, ask them for a jump drive, or flash drive or thumb drive, they’ll know!
GWEN: The jump drive? That sounds silly. The flash drive. That makes me think of a flush toilet, but not of computers, so I won’t remember that either. The thumb drive (she looks at her thumb, examines it thoroughly), I just might remember that. Thumb drive. Make sure you lock up the door, will you, Mimi? (she starts walking away, still examining her thumb when MIMI calls after her)
MIMI: Yes, the thumb drive. And the videos. Don’t forget to ask about the videos!
(EXIT GWEN. After a while, while the next scene is already being played, a car engine is heard starting up and driving away)
BRAD: I won’t forget!
MIMI: (turns away, still pretends not to see him)
BRAD: This deep-seated desire for videos, it tells a story. Romantic movies, I guess! And what might be behind this urgent need for the UBD jump flash thumb drives, I wonder?
MIMI: (says nothing, moves closer to the gate, but very slowly)
BRAD: I walked to here through the state forest. All the way from the Flinders Highway. It was a long trek.
MIMI: (says nothing, gets hold of the door handle)
BRAD: I rather like it here, you know? What a wonderful old town! Or the ruins of one, anyway…
MIMI: (shrugs her shoulders)
BRAD: You people don’t happen to run a bed and breakfast here, by any chance?
BRAD: A silly idea, wasn’t it? But I wonder, could I perhaps watch some videos with you? Provided that Gwen would bring any?
BRAD: Well, in that case it’s a good-bye, Mimi, and make sure you lock up your door. There’s all sorts of—
MIMI: I’m not scared.
BRAD: Just hang on to that door handle; it’s like your mum’s hand.
MIMI: (lets go of the handle) I have to go now.
BRAD: No, you don’t. You are home alone.
MIMI: How would you know?
BRAD: I just do. Have you been living here long?
MIMI: It’s our holiday home. We usually drive here to stay between semesters and sometimes for a few days when dad can get away from work.
BRAD: Gwen told me he’s a Professor. Which Uni?
BRAD: That’s a long drive from Brisbane.
MIMI: Dad likes driving. Mom doesn’t drive, but he lets me drive a bit too, since I’d got my licence. We make an overnight stop at a motel, though.
BRAD: May I sit here?
MIMI: Why not?
BRAD (sits on the bench): When I came here I felt so wonderful: it was so quiet here, like someone was sleeping, so quiet. It felt like I went through the forest and suddenly found a girl – she lies in the grass and sleeps. Wait, I won’t wake you up; but if I turned my back to her I know that you would look through the slit of your eyes and laugh at me.
BRAD: I don’t know. Stupid, you’d think, he’s gone; but so be it, he’s not worth another look anyway.
BRAD: Good-bye, Mimi. I was lucky. If she had looked at me, I would have turned to stone.
MIMI: (still with her back to him) What is it that hangs off you there?
BRAD: Hangs off me? Where? Oh, from my hat. It’s the ribbon. Has it been hanging there all the time?
MIMI: It has.
BRAD: Why didn’t you tell me straight away?
MIMI: Why should I?
BRAD: I wouldn’t have come to your sight. Would you like to stitch it back on for me?
BRAD: You’re right. (He rips off the ribbon and puts the hat on his head) Is this better?
MIMI: (at last has turned to face him) No.
BRAD: You’re right. (He throws the hat and the ribbon onto the bench and walks towards MIMI) So Mimi, how are you doing?
MIMI (Perhaps a little allarmed avoids him and picks up the hat and the ribbon from bench.): Give it to me!
MIMI: The hat. I’m going to fix it.
MIMI: No, at home.
BRAD: Don’t. It’s only a hat!
MIMI: Wait. (She shakes her head, puts the hat back on the bench, and slips inside through the gate.)
BRAD: Hey, Mimi! Where are you going? (He sticks his head inside the gate; looks back, then runs after her.)
MIMI: (comes back with a needle and a thread) Give me that hat. Where are you? … Has he gone? … Stupid, he’s gone away. (She picks up the hat and the ribbon; examines the hat internally and externally, shrinks her nose and puts it on her head. Makes a few dancing steps.)
BRAD: (his voice from inside the house) Mimi, where are you? Hey!
MIMI: (quickly takes off the hat) You! What are you doing there? Get out!
BRAD: (in the first floor window) I’ve been looking for you here—
MIMI: Please, do get out! What if someone came—
BRAD: This is your room, isn’t it? And who’s on this photograph?
MIMI: That’s Coleen, my sister. Please—
BRAD: I’m on my way. (Disappears)
(MIMI concentrates on the hat, sewing back the ribbon)
BRAD: (walks out of the gate) It’s so nice here. Is it often that you are here alone?
MIMI: Never. Today’s the first time.
BRAD: Your people went away?
MIMI: They just went to Townsville, visiting someone. They’ll be back tomorrow.
BRAD: That’s a shame. I would like it here. But when I walked inside it must have scared your house quite a lot, I could tell that! It sent a blast of cold air at me, as if to scare me off!
MIMI: That was the air conditioning, you silly.
BRAD: Maybe, but what about those crackling noises that came from everywhere, from the floorboards and walls? And the clock on the wall that had begun to cough and suffocate, and the glasses in the cupboard that were all shaking with laughter? And those curtains! Suddenly they lifted themselves and flapped like wings, trying to fly away.
MIMI: That was just from draught. You must have left the door open.
BRAD: Draught, maybe, but isn’t this a ghost town? Things like this are bound to go on here.
MIMI: A ghost town? Try to tell this to the two hundred or so residents.
BRAD: Weren’t there about five thousand, once?
MIMI: Yes. After the gold was discovered in the late nineteen hundreds, people came here from everywhere.
BRAD: I could well imagine the sorts of amiable activities that would have flourished here. Diggers of all colours and shapes would have poured in, as they always do with any new gold rush, and all kinds of racketeers in tow would move in, all of them as crooked as wild wine─
MIMI: You’re not wrong. I’ve done some research on this; eventually I might even write my thesis on the history of this town, if I get that far in my studies.
BRAD: There would be taverns, inns─
MIMI: About fifty of those.
BRAD: And whorehouses─
MIMI (quickly): Now there are only two hotels left, both had been built about 1900.
BRAD: I’ve seen them both. Real beauties! I wonder how long they will survive. There is hardly anything left here. Something resembling a supermarket, a post office, a police station… Does a place like this even need police station?
MIMI: There are only two cops, a sergeant and a constable. And they look after quite a large area.
BRAD: Yes. It must be physically and mentally exhausting and highly adventurous too, at least the way Constable Gareth describes it to you.
MIMI (taken aback): But how … how did you know?
BRAD: You’d be surprised how much I’d found out just from running upstairs! Your room behaved discretely - it had said nothing at all upon seeing me, only fetching a little sigh. Still, here you had pushed your nose to the window; over there you were writing on the pad Gareth, Gareth, Gareth, and next to it you have drawn a policeman with a moustache.
BRAD: And under the pillow there are some chick books that you’ve been reading. Love stories. Mimi, you’ve been truly and honestly kicking your heels while staying here.
MIMI: I’ve not.
BRAD: Now I know your whole family. Number one: the father, an old honourable, well educated, but naïve man—
MIMI: You know my father?
BRAD: I don’t. He has a slight heart problem, he likes to preach and can be very solicitous; he understands nothing and that’s why he has to meddle in everything; in short, a wonderful old man, full of complacencies and principles. Number two, the mother, and an interesting lady. Wise, prudent, romantic. She has a fair hair like you and she still feels young.
MIMI: How did you find all that out? In a minute or two you’d spent there?
BRAD: Easy, it only takes one look. The comb and the books, in her case. But the real master of the house is the number three. It’s Gwen.
MIMI: How did you know that?
BRAD: I know everything. Vicious like a dog, and wouldn’t obey anyone. She’s swift as an arrow, loyal, but vixenish and could be a truly pig-headed shrew. On the whole, she’s the only clearheaded person it this whole fortified house. Yes, fortified house, why has it been built like a fortress?
MIMI: It’s my father, he… Please, tell me how—
BRAD: Wait, that’s not all. There is also some mystery. Has anyone died?
MIMI: No one had died.
BRAD: But something terrible must have happened in this family.
BRAD: I knew it. There is a sense of mourning hanging in there, as if someone was secretly being remembered … I don’t know. But your sister Coleen looks such a strong-headed and strange girl and you, Mimi, you’ve been worshipping her!
MIMI (quietly): Yes.
BRAD: Of course. You put festoons around her picture like on an altar. She looks there kind of heroic and sharp, amative, untameable, god knows what else.
MIMI: Do you like her?
BRAD: As a matter of fact, I do. A lot!
MIMI: She’s beautiful, isn’t she? Oh, if only you knew her!
BRAD: Number five, Mimi, the darling of the family. Should I talk about her?
MIMI: Oh yeas, please!
BRAD: So, the darling only child, who is treated as a child, whom they want to keep only for themselves; she can’t do anything or go anywhere, she’s not even supposed to know that she’s grown up, and perhaps doesn’t even know it—
MIMI: Oh yes, she does!
BRAD: In that case it’s your secret, which you must keep away from them. You are their little baby that they are guarding and bluffing, they put you into bed in the evening and wake you up snip, snip, under the chin in the morning; and when for once they go away, they bless you with a cross, preaching: For God’s sake, Mimi, don’t even think about going out alone, you might step on a snake, just go for a little walk with Gwen, and God forbid that you speak to any strangers.
MIMI: No, they don’t think of me like that!
BRAD: Pious Mimi, you are bored here.
MIMI: What should I do? (drops the hat)
BRAD: (picks it up) – but that knot should be on the other side!
MIMI: I’ll unstitch it … But, how did you … get to know … all this?
BRAD: Looking through my eyes, like a detective. I could see everything. But one thing puzzles me. Please, tell me, why do you have bars in all the windows?
MIMI: Just so … it’s a bit remote here. Is that ribbon how it should be now?
BRAD: That’s it. And what would you be doing the whole day?
MIMI: I get online, talk to some of my friends. But the connection here is so slow. And they’re not used to that, they don’t have the patience.
THE RAISER: Can’t you use the mobile?
MIMI: No, it doesn’t work properly here, either. If you climb on the roof, on a cloudy day, you just might catch the signal. But then it goes away again, as soon as the sun gets out.
BRAD: Would you go out this afternoon?
MIMI: No, you know that I’m not allowed to.
BRAD: So you’ll be online, and Gwen will be around.
MIMI: Of course.
BRAD: Of course. And then you’ll doze off a little, and suddenly you’ll feel a stabbing pain in your heart. Oh, Gwendolyn, you will say, it feels so stuffy here, I have to go out and take some air. And you will go.
MIMI: I won’t go.
BRAD: Wait. Suppose you did go, but as you walk, suddenly you see a tumulus that is rising and falling, as if someone were breathing heavily. This is strange, you’ll say to yourself, they must have buried someone alive here. But it is not a tumulus, it’s someone dead lying there, and blood is streaming out of his chest. Oh God, so much blood, you are horrified, but then there comes a heavenly voice: This is not blood, this is love.
MIMI: What is that supposed to mean?
BRAD: It’s a dream. Now you would so much like to hear that voice again you come awake. You open your eyes and see that it is morning already, and that I stand under the window, calling: Good morning Mimi, come outside. I can’t, you will say, I’m still barefooted.
MIMI: I won’t say that. I’m used to being barefooted.
BRAD: Remember, all this is only a dream, my dream, and girls like you won’t come out barefooted. In my dreams they won’t, anyway. But, still in my dream, I can now let YOU have a dream … what about? Now you have cut me short, I forgot. The real dream should have followed now.
MIMI: What about?
BRAD: Something about love, but I forget what. And now you’ll feel such a stubbing pain in your heart that you scream and wake up. Oh Gwendolyn, you will say, I felt such a heart pang! What does it mean?… Nothing, Gwen will say, you just fell asleep over your keyboard for a second or two, and you hit your forehead on the table.
MIMI: As if I ever slept in the daytime—
BRAD: OK, maybe you’ll just get a headache—
VOICE BEHIND THE SCENE: Oh, oh, oh, I have such a headache!
MIMI: (jumps up) What is it?
BRAD: An echo?
VOICE BEHIND THE SCENE: Mro delóro, mro delóro! Mri pkhúuri rómni, du khal mro shéro.
BRAD: (stands up) What is this?
MIMI: (draws close to him) Good heavens!
(From the right on the scene walks BRIGITTA GYULAY, completely absorbed in herself, she keeps mumbling to herself.)
BRIGITTA: Me son tzelo opustimen, na neman tat, na nemam dai, na nemam niko. Mro shegi teno goolo del! (finally she sees them and stops)
BRAD: (to MIMI) What language could this be, it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard.
BRIGITTA: (she heard what he said) It’s a dialect of Romany, or Gypsy, if you like. Sorry. I thought I was alone.
MIMI: How did you—
BRIGITTA: My mother taught me. My father was a part aboriginal, I never knew him. My mother was a Hungarian gypsy. These words, I often heard them from her, when she was old and felt so alone in the world. She wasn’t, I was there to look after her, but somehow, I didn’t seem to count…
BRAD: And now it is you, feeling alone?
BRIGITTA: Sometimes I do. You just caught me at such a moment.
BRAD: Sorry. But we won’t tell anyone, would we, Mimi?
MIMI: Certainly not. What else did you mother teach you?
BRIGITTA: Oh, I know! You mean telling people’s fortunes, reading the Tarot cards, that sort of things, don’t you?
BRAD: I hope we’re not offending you—
BRIGITTA (laughs): Not at all, ey shukaar rayóro. I’ve never become too familiar with the Tarot, but I can read from people’s hands a bit. And I enjoy doing it. That bit I must have inherited, I think.
BRAD: There you are, I knew it! Mimi, why don’t you let this nice lady read your fortune from your hand?
MIMI: No, better not.
BRIGITTA: Come on, Mimi, give me your hand, my girl, I know that happiness awaits you. (MIMI, suddenly makes up her mind and offers her hand) My daughter, you have been ill and not very happy, your heart is soft, it might be cheerful now, but soon after it is sad again. Someone desires you … and here, ay-ay-ay!
MIMI: What is it?
BRIGITTA: My dear, only the truth I will tell you, only the truth. You will be sad. Another person much desires you, and only this person you would love, but you will run into a lot of trouble.
MIMI: A lot of trouble?
BRIGITTA: Kishasonka moya, a love forbidden it will be for you, your parents will be against it, but you won’t listen to them. Happy you will be and what you desire that you’ll get. You’ll know happiness then and you’ll also know the sorrow, your eyes will open. Aye … a great sadness will come over you, aye … aye, a heartbreak, you won’t rejoice when your mummy comes home.
MIMI: And what else?
BRIGITTA: Great upheavals will come, great disturbances, but you’ll get over them.
BRIGITTA: That’s always hard to say, when things will happen. They’ve been written there and almost certainly they will happen─
BRAD: Almost certainly?
BRIGITTA: People sometimes could change the course of events. But usually, what I see in their hands is what’s awaiting them. The question is: When?
MIMI: And you can’t tell that for sure…
BRIGITTA: No. But in this case I have a feeling that a lot could be happening soon, maybe even in a day or two.
BRAD: (offers his hand to BRIGITTA) Now read mine!
BRIGITTA: Look, I’m only an amateur—
BRAD: The way you just did it for Mimi looked very professional to me. (He keeps offering his hand until BRIGITTA agrees and begins to examine it.)
BRIGITTA: Looks like you’re a merry sort of a fellow. And very daring, too! You love speed, that’s what it is! And you have a rival, it seems. You are, you’ve been… (she looks intensely into his hand, then lets go of it suddenly, and turns away abruptly)
MIMI: (to herself) Why wouldn’t she tell me more?
BRIGITTA (suddenly lets go of BRAD’s hand): I shouldn’t have done this!
BRAD: What is it that you shouldn’t have done?
BRIGITTA (a matter of factly): Read you hand. Shouldn’t have read it to either of you. It seems that I might be somehow involved in what’s about to happen. Don’t know how. (she begins to walk away, mumbling to herself) An INTRUDER! He’s an INTRUDER! (nearly off the scene where MIMI could not hear her)
BRAD (holds BRIGITTA by a sleeve): What are you saying?
BRIGITTA: You’re a dare devil! Also an intruder, into people’s lives! But there might be a hope, yet…
(MIMI and BRAD sit together on the bench, MIMI resumes sewing the ribbon onto his hat)
MIMI: Why didn’t she tell me more?
BRAD: Forget about her! Who was she, anyway? She seemed to know you.
MIMI: She does. Oh, you wouldn’t know, would you? She’s Brigitta Gyulay, the Mayor of this town.
BRAD: What? You’re kidding! She can’t be the—
MIMI: She is. Not that she had to fight for the position, mind you, from what I’ve been told, she let herself be talked into taking on the job.
BRAD: Is that so?
MIMI: Yes, you better believe it, mister. Gwen told me that Brigitta is one of the oldest residents in this township. She was born here and so was perhaps even her mother. Her great grandparents came here with the gold rush, more than a hundred years ago, when the town had those five thousand inhabitants, and the fifty pubs. Why didn’t she only tell me more? About what’s awaiting me.
BRAD: Didn’t she tell you enough?
MIMI: Just the usual things that gypsies, we should call them the Romanies, I suppose, tell people all over the world. That I’ll be happy and also sad—
BRAD: And that you’ll live to ripe old age… Isn’t that what everybody wants to hear? And that’s what the gypsies are here for, aren’t they? To tell people what they want to hear.
MIMI: Oh, I’m sure Brigitta does that too. But why would she say that I’ll know the sorrow? What sorrow?
BRAD: No sorrow. Brigitta doesn’t know anything. She’s no gypsy, she’s no fortune teller. She’s the Mayor of this town, that’s all.
MIMI: She said that I’ll know the sorrow! As if I didn’t know anything yet, as if I … didn’t feel anything, as if I were happy—
BRAD: The typical gypsy’s lies.
MIMI: But why did she tell me the other thing?
MIMI: That I will only love one person.
BRAD: Now, listen to me Mimi: she’s the town mayor, she’s a politician, and she talks fibs. Politicians tell all sorts of lies they think that people want to hear.
MIMI (not listening to him): As if I could love more than one person! If I were to love someone, then … I would go with him and … never— au! (she pricks her finger with the needle)
BRAD: Now you have pricked your finger.
MIMI: Never mind. But how could she say that I will forget my love? I’m not like that—
BRAD: She’s only the town’s Mayor! Or so you say.
MIMI: I’m not like that, to have a forbidden love. I couldn’t be so … so—
BRAD: So bad, is that it?
MIMI: No, so brave. My sister Coleen was so brave.
BRAD: Did she have a forbidden love?
MIMI: She had. Still might do, I don’t know. He’s some sort of a musician, plays with a rock band. My folks tried to stop her, but she’d run away with him. At night time, through the window. That’s why dad had bars put in all the windows, at our St Lucia house and even here, that was after she’d ran away. … Do you think it is bad? Running away, I mean.
BRAD: No, I don’t.
MIMI: Neither do I.
BRAD: On the contrary, I like it.
MIMI: I … perhaps … do too. But I couldn’t do it.
BRAD: Coleen must be a wonderful young woman, smart, and intelligent. I could tell that straight away, after seeing her on that picture.
MIMI: She’s very clever. She was going to study architecture, but then she decided that she wants to take a gap year, and that made our dad crazy, and I mean crazy! He said that she’ll never get back to studying, that’s what the gap years do to people, and that the statistics prove it. And I suppose that he was right. She ran away, didn’t she?
BRAD: And you wouldn’t do anything like that, would you? Take a gap year or run away…
MIMI: I’m not like her, I couldn’t—
BRAD: Of course not, they’re guarding you.
MIMI: Yes, they are. You wouldn’t believe it how! In Brisbane we have a housekeeper too, she’s a Filipino. Mayumi is more like a body guard, really. She knows my timetable at the Uni, she picks me up, always right on time, drives me home, then maybe to tennis lessons, sometimes we might go to cinema, but always together. I’m pretty sure that she hacks into my computer to check my emails too, when I’m away at the lectures. But they don’t know that, my parents I mean, even if they didn’t guard me like this, I surely wouldn’t, I couldn’t, wouldn’t know how to, could never—
BRAD: And were they snooping on your sister like this too?
MIMI: Not this much, only a bit. Because Coleen was such a … I don’t know; now we never even hear from her. They were right when they tried to stop her, they were right … Oh, why did I let that woman read my hand!
BRAD: Don’t brood over it.
MIMI: I would like to know more … (she bites off the thread) Finished.
MIMI: The hat. And what did Brigitta tell you?
BRAD: To me? Not much, really. Only general stuff.
MIMI: I wasn’t listening.
BRAD: That I have a rival, or something.
MIMI: (looking at her hand) Which one is the love line?
BRAD: Has to be the most beautiful one.
MIMI: Show me your hand … That’s strange, your lines look completely different from mine! As if they were carved out. This one looks like, what… a Turkish sabre, I suppose...
BRAD: Looks more like the government popularity chart to me.
MIMI: That would have to be descending.
BRAD: From where I stand it does.
MIMI: Your hand looks so strange! There’s a capital “M” … and what does this line stand for?
BRAD: Nothing, that’s just a scar. Now, show me yours. A rich white hand—
MIMI: What does it mean?
BRAD: Beauty. This must be the love line.
MIMI: The large one?
BRAD: No, the pretty one, the flash one.
MIMI: Oh no; love has to be the deepest.
BRAD: No, life line is the deepest. But if I squeezed your hand … does it hurt?
MIMI: It doesn’t.
BRAD: As if I were holding the whole of you in my hand. As if I had my hand on your heart. I’ll tell you something.
MIMI: Let me go. What if someone came?
BRAD: No one will come. Except maybe the Mayor, and she’s already seen us together.
MIMI: Would she tell my father, what do you think?
BRAD: Somehow I doubt it. I think we’ve seen the side of her nobody in this town knows much about, and she’s not going to advertise it all over, either.
MIMI: I hope you’re right.
BRAD: Tell me. When you are very happy do you ever get the feeling that you are only dreaming, that it’s all a dream?
MIMI: I do.
BRAD: Something touches your hair, like a breath or large wings. Do you know such joy?
MIMI: I do.
BRAD: I’ll tell you something … Look, a drop of blood. I’ve squeezed it out. Here is where you have pricked your finger.
MIMI: (stands up) Oh, let me go!
BRAD: (releases her hand) Only a little blood! Drink it, it’s sweet.
MIMI: (touches his hand with her finger) A ringlet of blood. Good-bye! (she runs to the gate)
BRAD: (stands up) Wait!
MIMI: (inside the gate) I have to go now. Good-bye.
BRAD: I’ll come to you.
MIMI: You can’t. Anyway, it’s forbidden to walk here. If the policeman saw you here—
BRAD: So what!
MIMI: No, you can’t. Good-bye, Mr. Nobody, the next time say who you are … and anyway, good-bye! (she closes and locks up the gate behind her)
BRAD: (runs to the gate, presses the handle) I didn’t introduce myself? Sorry! I’m Brad, anyway. Can you hear me? She can’t or wouldn’t, and she’s locked herself in! Just you wait! (he jumps up grabs the top of the wall, pulls himself up and hanging by his elbows over the wall he looks into the yard) She’s not there. (he jumps down and sits on the bench) Well, well, well, a policeman. Gareth. Gary. Is he a Gareth or a Gary?
(Enter GARETH, the Police Constable, in his hand he holds a bunch of wild flowers he must have picked up somewhere.)
GARETH: Hey! What were you doing there?
BRAD: I’m just sitting here.
GARETH: As I was coming here I saw you pulling yourself up, and looking over that wall. What were you looking for? Something you could steel?
BRAD: Not at all. Who lives there?
GARETH: A professor from Brisbane. Is that any business of yours? Sir!
BRAD: And is it any business of yours what I’m doing here? Sir!
GARETH: As a matter of fact, it is. This is a private property, and you were observed while acting suspiciously. Look, sir, you’ll have to leave immediately or I’m going to have to arrest you!
BRAD: And what would give you the right to arrest me?
GARETH: Do you know who I am?
GARETH: … you know me?
BRAD: No, I don’t.
GARETH: I too … sir, I think I might know you. Are you … are you..?
BRAD: I’m not.
GARETH: Please, sir, accompany me.
BRAD: Where to?
GARETH: To the police station.
BRAD: I see. (sits down) You … Gareth! What do you want here with that bunch of flowers? Who is it for?
GARETH: I beg your pardon, sir—
BRAD: No, sir! You idiot, you nitwit, you egghead, you nincompoop, please note that I’m only using decent expressions, so that you can’t accuse me of insulting the police! So you thought that Mimi was home alone? Look buster, today I am here, and you can go home. Give me those flowers!
GARETH: Are you … a friend ..?
BRAD: You jester, can’t you see? If I were a friend, would you find me sitting in front of the locked gate? What do you think?
BRAD: Sir, what?! Don’t you like my being here? I don’t like to see you here either. You came to visit the young lady? Has she asked you to come?
GARETH: That’s none of your business.
BRAD: Yes it is. It is business to me.
GARETH: Who are you?
BRAD: You want to know my name? Is there a rival missing in your romance of the ghost mining town? I’m not a hero for a novel, you imbecile!
GARETH: What did you call me?
BRAD: A moron. And now, out of here with you, I’m the policeman here today! You cretin, you sod—
GARETH: Now that’s enough! If we weren’t in this place, and if I weren’t on duty—
BRAD: My vocabulary goes farther, as far as decent words go — you leather-head, you scarecrow, you flower flabbergast, you prawn-headed—
GARETH: (pulls out the taser) Now that’s enough. You ARE insulting a policeman—
BRAD: And you think that I’m scared of you? Or of your taser? Are you guys allowed to carry tasers nowadays?
GARETH: Just be careful!
BRAD: Come on. Do you come here every day? Do you bring her wild flowers, maybe write poems for her? Tell her that you will shoot yourself dead with your taser? To make her eyes go wet with tears?
GARETH: If you dare to insult her—
BRAD: You troubadour! I can insult her as much as I want to. Do you want to stop me? You brain-dead weasel?
GARETH: I’m … I’m going to shoot you! For resisting arrest!
BRAD: Not so fast, I still have the hands in my pockets. Look Stench, it’s a lost cause for you here: I’m going to throw you of your horse before you know it. This is my territory and I—
GARETH: (in a tremulous voice) If you’re going to insult her I’ll shoot you! I’ll shoot you like a mad dog!
BRAD: (pulls his hands out of pockets and pretends he is rolling up his sleeves) I’m going to get her, don’t you worry about that. I’m going to get her, just like this, you see? And she’ll be mine, even today … and she’ll laugh at you—
GARETH: (aims the taser at him from close up) You skunk! … I’ll … I’ll—
BRAD: (pushes the barrel of the taser away) Just be careful with that flute! (he shakes GARETH and tries to push him off the stage) Don’t try anything silly mate, like suicide by the cop! Just go away, will you? And even today I’ll have her, and even today I’ll be laughing at you; and you’re not going to stop me. Now, go! (he pushes the GARETH away and roles down his sleeves)
GARETH: (beside himself) I’ll Kill … I’ll kill! (lifts up the taser) Nobody can … I’ll not allow it … nobody can touch—
BRAD: (hands in his pockets) What are you doing with that taser? Look, you’re trembling like an aspen leaf.
GARETH: (cannot aim the taser because of his trembling hands) You’ve insulted … you’ll pay … I’ll shoot … the dog..!
BRAD: Dog or no dog, I only pay when I want to. (in a booming voice) Go away!
(Throughout their quarrel there is a movement of the curtain behind the upstairs window, as MIMI has apparently heard something and has been watching the two quarrelling, with both of them too absorbed by it to notice her.)
GARETH: (lifts the taser and aims) I’ll shoot! One … go away!
BRAD: When I get her.
BRAD: Ten, if you wish.
GARETH: (lowers the taser) If it weren’t … here!
BRAD: You’re mad.
GARETH: You just wait … you … you coward … I’m arresting you and I’m asking you to accompany me to the police station!
BRAD: On what charges would you arrest me?
GARETH: You won’t get her … I won’t give her … I’ll defend … to the last drop!
BRAD: So be it. (runs up to the wall, leaps and pulls himself up) You defend!
GARETH: Stop! (lifting the taser)
BRAD: (He has pulled himself up, stands on top of the wall, makes a mocking gesture.) Adieu, you imperishable defender!
GARETH: Oh! (pulls the trigger, without aiming)
(BRAD staggers and falls off the wall, on the audience side.)
(During the following scene, behind the general turmoil, the noise of Gwen’s car arriving can be heard, followed by her slamming the car door. BRAD lies on the ground in front of the wall, where he has fallen, without a movement. )
MIMI (She leaves the upstairs window and runs onto the balcony. She is straining to see what happened to BRAD, but because of the wall she can’t see to where he lies in front of it.) What have you done?!
GARETH: (backing away) I’ve … I’ve—
MIMI: What have you done, Gareth!?
GARETH: I’ve killed! (he runs away)
(Noise of a car arriving is being heard.)
MIMI: Help! Help! (she runs inside the house)
GWEN: (voice only, behind the scene) Was it you, Mimi, calling for help here?!
GEORGE: (voice only, behind the scene) Who’s been calling for help?
GWEN: (voice only, behind the scene) Ah, George, thank goodness you’re here, come, quick! Something’s happened! Something bad! Mimi’s been calling for help!
GEORGE: So it seems!
(GWEN and GEORGE run onto the scene together.)
GWEN: There’s someone laying there!
GEORGE: I see, I see.
GWEN: Oh, Christ almighty, a stiff! That’s just what we needed!
MIMI: (at the gate, in tears, pale) Gwen, Gwen, hurry up!
GWEN: (runs to her) For God’s sake, Mimi, what’s happened to you?
MIMI: Here, look—
GEORGE: (kneeling by BRAD) Oh, yeah, dead.
MIMI: Is he breathing?
GEORGE: Not at all.
GEORGE: As a door nail!
GWEN: Christ, Mimi! Mimi, are you not well?
BRAD: (with a little movement) Ehhh—
GEORGE: He’s breathing now.
GWEN: Look, that’s the guy who was sitting here before! Mimi, what’s been going on here?
BRAD: Mimi … doesn’t … know … anything.
GEORGE: Quick, bring him water or better, some grog!
(MIMI runs away)
GWEN: George, leave him alone, don’t even touch him! That’s only for the authorities. Wait for the police to arrive.
GEORGE: Yes, but has anyone called them yet? He could die before they even get here—
GWEN: So he could, but you just stay out of it. The mobile doesn’t work here properly; I’ll have to make the call from the house. (she is walking towards the house) I wouldn’t even come near him, George, if I were you, I wouldn’t—
MIMI: (voice from the inside) Gwen, please!
GWEN: I’m coming. It’s him, that guy! I knew it had to be him! (she goes inside the house)
GEORGE: (sees BRAD moving, tentatively trying to feel different parts of his body) What have you done to yourself, hey?
BRAD: I tripped and fell on a stone, haven’t I?
GEORGE: Sure you have! Looks to me that your head’s been cracked here.
BRAD: I could feel that straight away.
GEORGE: But why did you fall? And don’t try to make a fool of yourself by pretending you’ve tripped over a tree stump. I heard you having a quarrel with that stupid young cop, what’s his name? Gary. Has he used his taser on you? He’s been in trouble with that before for having been too trigger happy—
BRAD: listen, not a word of any tasers, understand? Or—
GEORGE: OK, I won’t say a word, I won’t. Just stay down there.
(Enter MIMI with a bottle of rum, which she holds to BRAD’s mouth, with GEORGE helping by holding his head up. Gwen comes out, sees them.)
GWEN: Why give him rum, if he’s to die? Don’t touch him, Mimi. I rang the police station, got sergeant Skinner. He’s on his way.
GEORGE: Now, could you bring us some water, Mimi? And a clean towel!
GWEN: Fancy that! A clean towel! (runs inside the house)
MIMI: Come on, Gwen, be reasonable! (she runs after Gwen)
GEORGE: If you could lift your head a bit, like this. (gives him more rum)
BRAD: Just don’t pour that rum under my collar.
GEORGE: Too good for that, eh? (drinks some himself from the bottle)
GWEN (back from the house): Now, we’ll all have to go to the magistrate for witnesses. Hey, you, what have you done to yourself?
BRAD: I just tripped, Gwen, and—
GWEN: There’s nothing here to trip over, or is there?
BRAD: I was just a bit clumsy, that’s all.
GEORGE: Yeah, things like that happen, don’t they? We all get a bit clumsy, now and then. The other day I went out shooting the pigs, and—
MIMI: (carries in her arms half the contents of her hope chest) Here, take anything you need! Bandage him! Save him!
GEORGE: (with tongue in cheek) Well, I don’t know about that. One could only hope … First of all, he’ll need more of that rum, I’d say. Could you hold his head up, Gwen? (takes a quick swig himself behind her back)
GWEN: Not a chance! Who knows how he took harm like this.
MIMI: I’ll hold it. (kneels to BRAD, takes his head in hands)
GWEN: You’ll get stained, Mimi!
BRAD: Is it you, Mimi?
MIMI: Lie quietly … does it hurt?
BRAD: It doesn’t.
GEORGE: (wipes his head with the wet rowel) Don’t waggle!
MIMI: What do you want?
GEORGE: He’s passed out again. Just hold him, Miss, while I—
MIMI: George, is he going to die?
GEORGE: No way, Mimi! Can I tear this up, for bandages like?
GWEN: Don’t you dare!
MIMI: Tear up anything you want … you can tear up everything!
GWEN: (selects some tea towel from Mimi’s equipage) This one you could tear up; it might still be repairable, but—
MIMI: Hurry up, Gwen!
GEORGE: (tears the towel GWEN gave him into longer strips) It’ll be ready in a moment.
GWEN: Such a fine towel, what a waste!
GEORGE: Your fingers are trembling, Mimi. Well, lack of practice I suppose … (he ties the strip up) You must know what to do. And now we’ll tie the towel around it. There.
MIMI: But, are you sure there aren’t any more wounds somewhere—
GEORGE: More, where? From the tas— no, he just tripped and hit his head, that’s all. He’ll just need to have it dressed, take some rest and he’ll be as good as new.
MIMI: We’ll put him up here!
GWEN: A total stranger? No way, Mimi! Who knows where he came from? Do you know him? Who’s he? He could be anyone. A criminal on the run, even!
MIMI: But Gwen, we just can’t leave him here!
GWEN: Mimi, that’s impossible. Such a thing wouldn’t happen to a decent man, and all of a sudden, like this, would it? And we have no room anyway.
MIMI: In dad’s bed!
GWEN: Your father will be back tomorrow. It can’t be and that’s it!
MIMI: In my bed, then! Gwen, please, please let’s do it!
GWEN: No, Mimi. What if ‘e were to die here? I’m not going to allow that, and that’s it!
MIMI: (in tears) You have no heart!
GEORGE: But Mimi, it’s not such a big deal. I’ll go and get my car. It’s a station wagon, there’s plenty of room there, and I got some sacks there too. I’ll take him to the doctor.
GWEN: (picking up the wash-bowl, towel and rum, which she examines suspiciously) You should be ashamed of yourself, Mimi. Even thinking about taking somebody like this into the house! I’ll sure tell your mum!
MIMI: You have no heart!
GWEN: And you have no reason. Just leave him alone or you’ll get stained with blood all over. So now he’s got on his head two towels and a dishcloth, an’ who’s going to give it back to us? It just had to have happened here! The tripping, I mean. And leave him alone, will you! (exit to house)
MIMI: (kneeling by BRAD’s head) It’s me, Mimi. Why … why did you talk like that? Can you hear me? What did you say about me? Oh, I’m so miserable! (leaning close to his face) What did you say, what have you determined, concerning me? Why can’t you hear me? … Oh, I’m so unhappy! Wake up! Brad!
BRAD: (stirs up) Ahh!
MIMI: Do you need anything?
BRAD: You, Mimi?
MIMI: Are you in pain?
BRAD: No. What happened?
MIMI: You and Gareth—
BRAD: Aha, I know now. He has—
BRAD: Where is he?
MIMI: He ran away.
BRAD: It was … an accident, wasn’t it? He was showing me his taser, he’s very proud of being allowed to carry it, you know, and—
MIMI: I don’t think that he’s allowed to carry it at all. But he does, all the same! He takes it from the cupboard when the Sergeant’s not looking. I heard what both of you said, I heard it all. Did you mean what you’d said?
BRAD: (tries to get up, but apparently he is still partially paralysed) Damn it! This thing makes a cripple out of you. (to MIMI) I didn’t know you could hear us!
MIMI: Just lie still.
BRAD: Are you mad with me?
MIMI: No. Just keep still. And, please—
MIMI: Please, just don’t get any idea that I … that Gareth … He shouldn’t have talked like that, you know, as if I … as if he were important to me! No! He shouldn’t have talked like that!
BRAD: I know.
MIMI: I was so annoyed! So insulted!
BRAD: By what I said?
MIMI: No, by what he said. (A noise of an approaching car, closely followed by another vehicle) Someone’s coming. (she stands up) That would be our neighbour George. And Sergeant Skinner, most likely.
BRAD: The one in charge of the local constabulary?
MIMI: You know him?
BRAD: Yes, I’ve had the honour. Good bye, Mimi, I’m afraid that I’m about to drift into unconsciousness…
(MIMI looks at him with some concern, but he winks at her, before lying still.)
(SERGEANT SKINNER walks onto the stage resolutely, observes the scene. GEORGE follows him closely.)
SKINNER: I was trying to call Gary, my offsider, but he doesn’t answer. He’s never around, especially when he’s needed.
GEORGE: I haven’t seen him either. But we could manage without Gary, surely. We’ll put him into my car, and—
SKINNER: What’s he done to himself? Looks like he’s out like a log— Wait, isn’t that the same guy again? Yes it is! I don’t believe this!
GEORGE: You know him?
SKINNER: Caught him trying to steel some of my price mangoes, first thing in the morning. And a little later he was trying to chat up my daughters at the bus station. I chased him away. Next, Malcolm Randall drops in, complaining that this fellow was walking around, looking at houses, even the ruined ones, and generally acting suspiciously. Mal had sent a dog after him, he told me he paid six hundred dollars for the matt, just between us, I think he exaggerated or otherwise he was being had, anyway, what would you expect? The fellow just called at his show-piece mongrel “Come here, puppy, shake hands”, and the brute runs to him to offer him his paw! I’ve never seen him before, but the town’s been full of him since early morning. And now this! What’s he done to himself?
GEORGE: (hastily) He tripped over something and hit his head, apparently. He was bleeding quite heavily when I first saw him.
SKINNER: Tripped over something? I doubt that. And was it you, who put those bandages on him?
GEORGE: Of course. A good job, isn’t it?
SKINNER: Too good, by a half, mate. Better than he deserves, for sure. (to MIMI) We’ll take over here, lass.
GEORGE: (to MIMI) He’ll travel like a lord, don’t worry.
(Grabs BRAD by his shoulders, with SKINNER holding him by the legs.)
BRAD: (pretends that he has just regained consciousness, mumbles) Where are you taking me?
GEORGE: To the doctor’s surgery first, then maybe to the Railway Hotel, that’s just next door.
BRAD: I’m staying in the Royal Exchange.
SKINNER: Yes, of course, a proper royalty you are, for sure!
GEORGE: He’s quite heavy, isn’t he?
SKINNER: A man of substance, I’d say. I knew that straight away when I first saw him!
(They straggle off the scene, towards the parked car, carrying BRAD)
(EXEUNT SKINNER, GEORGE, BRAD)
MIMI: (left alone, looking after them) Because of me … All this just because of me … (she turns back, looks where BRAD was laying) Oh God, so much blood!
VOICE FROM HEAVEN: It is not blood, it is love!
MIMI: I have such a headache!
END OF ACT ONE