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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man locked in guilt gains unlikely help from a loyal companion.

Submitted: February 11, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 11, 2013




                                  Semi Detached                            
                                  Craig Baxter                             
                                   Scene 1                                 
                    (Man sits at his kitchen table eating an apple as      
                    audience enter. Dim lighting, candles scattered        
                    about the piles of newspapers and the sound of a       
                    ticking clock throughout. He stares blankly. This      
                    continues until the audience are seated.               
                    A screen displays the quote: ’Doing nothing for        
                    is the undoing of one’s                                
                    self.  We must be purposely                            
                    kind and generous, or we miss the best part of         
                    The heart that goes out of itself, gets large and      
                    full of joy.  This is the                              
                    great secret of the inner                              
                    life.  We do ourselves                                 
                    the most good doing                                    
                    something for others.                                  
                    Horace Mann’                                           
                    Man walks about his house for the duration of the      
                    music. He blows out the candles one by one while       
                    looking about his house. As the music begins to        
                    distort the lighting grows brighter. He makes his      
                    way to his bed downstage left. He takes off his        
                    dressing gown, hangs it up and then lies down. As      
                    the music stops the ticking clock begins again.        
                    The Man lies in a bed occasionally moving. He          
                    wears a vest and boxer shorts. He is awake. At the     
                    head of the bed is a small desk with a glass of        
                    water on top next to a lamp pointing upwards. Next     
                    to this a railing with many coat hangers. The only     
                    thing that hangs is his dressing gown. The ticking     
                    is all we hear as we observe the stage. Downstage      
                    right in the corner stands a wooden door. Upstage      
                    left a pink cot; slightly tattered. Next to this,      
                    at an angle, is a ruined couch. Upstage right a        
                    kitchen and in the centre a fold up table with a       
                    chair either side. The place is dingy. Light is        
                    scarce. Pictures hanging along the back wall, a        
                    larger picture of three clocks hangs in the middle     
                    (the first clock labeled ’past’, the middle            
                    ’present’ and the last is ’future’)  Over the          
                    Man’s bed a framed photograph of a wedding photo.      
                    This picture is scratched and is barely visible.       
                    Surrounding the edges of the stage are buckets,        
                    tubs of paint, metal and wooden ladders etc. We        
                    listen to the ticking of the clock for at least a      
               Man: Tick-tock. Tick-tock.(Turning in his bed then          
               turning off the bedside light)                              
                    (The clock continues to tick, after time the           
                    lighting goes to spotlight on the Man in his bed.      
                    The clock continues to tick. The Man is still. The     
                    ticking stops, the Man laughs for a moment             
                    contented and then there is silence and stillness      
               (Voiceover) Man: It was the same every night. Night         
               after night after night after night after day. All I        
               wanted was to fall asleep. I end up in this bed every       
               night. I end up awake in this bed every night.              
               I... need... sleep.                                         
               It’s not warm when she’s away. Tonight something            
               happened. Tonight I remembered.                             
                    (Silence. A dog begins to cry through the wall.        
                    The Man sighs and again moves about in his bed,        
                    ending up lying facing the audience with the duvet     
                    covering everything but his face.)                     
               Man: Stop it. Stop it now. Stop crying! Stop it.            
               Be quiet now, I need to sleep.                              
                    (He moves about more in his bed, covering his ears     
                    with his pillow etc. After a few moments he comes      
                    to sitting. His duvet pulled back and looking          
                    forward. He looks as if at a wall that is between      
                    him and the audience. The dog continues to cry.)       
               Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.                      
               You should be tied in the garden. Sleep in the cold,        
               mutt. I bet you have a warm bed to sleep on, just use       
               it! Sleep. Muuuuuuuuutt.                                    
                    (He scratches his head and coughs, covering his        
                    mouth with his forearm. He wipes his lips with his     
               Go to sleep.                                                
                    (He stares for a second then picks up the glass of     
                    water, holds it up in front of him and looks at it     
                    examining the contents in great detail. It could       
                    have been there days. Maybe weeks. He sniffs it        
                    then drinks the glass in one. He stares at the         
                    wall, holding the empty glass between his              
                    flattened palms rolling it back and forth. He is       
                    quite silent. The dog continues to cry. Man            
                    (Walking slowly upstage centre)                        
               I need to sleep. Understand that. Do you have an            
               important meeting tomorrow? Got something to do?            
               I need to sleep so I can wake up tomorrow. I need to        
               wake up tomorrow so that I can do things. Tomorrow is       
               already today. So sleep sounds like a bit of a              
               pointless idea right now, doesn’t it? I thank you for       
               that. Prick. Might as well stay awake.                      
                    (He coughs again into his forearm)                     
               Thank you very much.                                        
               I don’t get it, what’s wrong with you? You should be        
               sleeping too, it’s late. Go to sleep. I thought I could     
               finally sleep- but no you thought you’d pipe up, so         
               what’s wrong? Do you need to go outside? Do you need to     
               take a piss?                                                
                    (Waits for a response then shakes his head)            
               I’d rather you pissed in my hallway. In fact, that’s a      
               great idea. Come round and stop your crying! I dare         
               you. Do it in the house. Go on, I’m sure you pissed         
               there when you were a pup. Man’s best friend. Come over     
               and piss in my vase. I’ll even hold it for you. I’ll        
               supply for you. I’ll help you sort yourself out.            
                    (He coughs into his hand then laughs)                  
               Fuck that for a laugh, mutt. I don’t care what’s wrong      
               with you.                                                   
               Yeah. I can’t deal with this.                               
                    (He turns and begins to walk back to his dressing      
                    gown; he takes it off the hanger and puts it on.       
                    The sound of the dog crying suddenly turns to the      
                    cry of a baby for a brief moment until he turns to     
                    face the audience. Man looks at the wall confused.     
                    He ties his dressing gown then sits on the bed.        
                    The dog continues to cry.                              
                    A rumble begins; building to banging over the cry      
                    while Man stares still. This is stretched out for      
                    20 seconds. Rumble suddenly stops and we’re back       
                    to hearing only the cry of the dog as the man          
                    sniffs, stands up and turns to walk to the             
                    kitchen. He mutters under his breath ‘shut up’, ‘I     
                    need to sleep’ etc. He picks up a bottle of water      
                    from on top of the kitchen cupboard. He takes a        
                    drink then walks and sits down; he looks back at       
                    the wall and begins to sarcastically mock the          
                    dog’s crying.)                                         
               Man: Fucking dog! I want to sleep. No, I suppose I’ll       
               have to just listen to you.                                 
                    (Moments pass)                                         
               Tell me something.                                          
                     (He begins to tap his foot quickly)                   
               Tell me something interesting. What do I need to know       
               that’s so important? I could be dreaming now. I know,       
               it’s probably wrong to crazy so much satisfaction from      
               your dreams- but I haven’t had a dream since she was        
               here. My eyes have never shut. Come on I want to know.      
               I really do. Tell me. There’s no reason you’re keeping      
               me awake? Yeah, I bet there’s something. Are you going      
               to tell me? Please.                                         
                    (He takes another mouthful of the water and drinks     
                    it. He then stands and looks at the wall. He then      
                    takes another mouthful but does not swallow. Will      
                    his mouth full of water it begins to dribble from      
                    his mouth. He then he sprays it out in front of        
               ...Shut up then.                                            
                    (Man laughs. He walks downstage left to his room       
                    and rummages through a large bag of laundry at the     
                    foot of his bed. He pulls out two odd socks and        
                    sits on his bed to put them on, sitting on his bed     
                    to do so. He reaches for his slippers and puts         
                    them on also. A tune (There Ain’t No Sunshine When     
                    She’s Gone) from a music box gradually builds in       
                    the background. Spotlight on cot as the lights         
                    dim. Man can hear the music; he looks forward and      
                    appears to become overwhelmed by the music. The        
                    dog continues to cry.                                  
                    As the music gets louder spotlight gradually           
                    builds on the cot. Brighter and brighter. Man          
                    stands. The music stops and the spotlight goes         
                    out; back to regular dim lighting. He approaches       
                    the cot. He places his hand onto it and stares         
                    inside, then he brings his eyes up and looks at        
                    the wall. Man moves quickly into the kitchen and       
                    goes through the cupboards. He finally finds a         
                    bottle whiskey in a cupboard along with a glass.       
                    He puts the glass on the table but doesn’t sit         
                    down. He immediately pours a glass and takes a         
                    mouthful. He keeps it in his mouth like before,        
                    staring forward. He laughs, still with the water       
                    in his mouth. This time he swallows.)                  
               Be quiet now. You cant cry any more. Please.                
                    (The clock ticks for ten seconds only. The dog         
                    continues to cry.)                                     
               Good morning.                                               
                     (He laughs)                                           
               How are you today?                                          
                    (He pours another glass and drinks it. Another         
                    more distorted but rhythmical rumble begins to         
                    build. The dog continues to cry.)                      
               Be quiet!                                                   
                     (Rumble builds more. A scratching violin begins.      
                    He drinks another glass. He coughs.)                   
               Fuck off!                                                   
                     (Rumble builds more and more distorted and more       
                    scratching. The lights begin to flicker. He drinks     
                    another glass.)                                        
               Let’s count some sheep.                                     
                     (Rumble builds more. He drinks another glass.)        
               Are you a sheep dog?                                        
                    (Rumble builds to climax as man beings to sway. He     
                    finds his way to a seat at the table and sits          
                    down. He collapses with his head on the table, the     
                    rumble and scratching stop and the sound of            
                    breaking glass. All lights go out. The dog             
                    continues to cry.)                                     
               (Voice over) Man: Okay, I’m going to count to five. And     
               when I get to five you’re going to be quiet.                
               One. Two. Three. Four. Five.                                
                     (The dog stops crying)                                
               Thank you.                                                  
                                   Scene Two                               
                    (Silence. The lights come up. Man lies still with      
                    his head on the table.)                                
                     (A banging on the door. Five knocks. Man does not     
                    move. Some time after another three knocks. Man        
                    lifts his head and looks around dazed. Another         
                    five loud knocks. He looks at the wall as he           
                    climbs to his feet. He staggers to centre stage        
                    and stops, staring at the door. A spotlight builds     
                    on the door. Two knocks. Man jumps.)                   
               I’m coming!                                                 
                     (Man makes his way to the door and opens it.          
                    Tramp enters pushing past Man. He wears no shoes       
                    or socks. He is damp and has a cut on his hand         
                    which is bleeding badly. He wears a ragged coat        
                    and cord pants. He is frustrated and in pain.  Man     
                    stands and looks at him in shock, speechless.          
                    Tramp gazes back. He licks at his wound. Blood         
                    around his mouth. Tramps eyes stare at Man strong.     
                    He does not blink, but spits out the blood from        
                    his mouth.)                                            
               Tramp: Help.                                                
               Please. Help. I’m bleeding.                                 
                     (Man nods. There is a moment, then he replies.)       
               Man: The kitchen is just through there. I have a first      
               aid kit.                                                    
               Tramp: That would be nice wouldn’t it?                      
                    (He smiles at his own sarcasm)                         
               Better find it then.                                        
                     (Man nods as if to go and help Tramp, but stands      
                    still. Tramp turns and makes his way into the          
                    kitchen. He sits in the same chair Man was sat on      
                    previously. He licks his hand again and spits out      
                    the blood on the floor. Man begins to walk round       
                    to the kitchen; still swaying he makes his way to      
                    the cupboard. He takes out the first aid kit and       
                    throws it on the table and stumbles to the other       
                    chair. He sits slumped.)                               
               You’re not a doctor then I take it?                         
                     (Man shakes his head.)                                
               Guess I’ll do it myself then? Thanks.                       
                    (He begins cleaning and mending his hand)              
               So what do you do for a living then?                        
                    (Pause. Man continues to stare in bewilderment and     
                    without response)                                      
               You’re unemployed then? Yes? No? Or you cant get a job      
               because you’re socially retarded?                           
                    (He clicks his fingers at Man)                         
               Listen to me. You’re either that that or you’re a           
               complete fucking tramp.                                     
                    Man nods                                               
               Haha! You’re a tramp?                                       
               Man: No, I’m unemployed.                                    
               Tramp: He has a voice! Praise the loard he has a voice!     
               So you’re unemployed, I see. Well, that’s unfortunate.      
               I used to be unemployed. Oh no, wait- I still am.           
                    Man sits himself more comfortably in his seat.         
               I like you.                                                 
               Man: Who are you?                                           
               Tramp: Man’s best friend.                                   
                    Man stares at the tramp. He finishes cleaning his      
                    hand and closes the first aid box, sliding it          
                    across the table towards Man.                          
               Tramp: (Smiling) Thanks for the help.                       
                    He looks at his hand then stands and walks round       
                    the kitchen he looks around and all over.              
               Tramp: Well, this place is a bit of a shit hole. You        
               and I aren’t so different you know? You’re just a tramp     
               with a home. It’s a shame, I feel sorry for this place.     
               It looks like a fucking crack den. I would call you a       
               tramp for this. I’d describe you as a tramp. I’m what I     
               am due to society. Life had it in store for me. You         
               could do with cleaning this place up every once in a        
               while. Might make you feel better.                          
               Man: I’m just passing time.                                 
               Tramp: (Sarcastically) I see. For what?                     
               Man: Everything to go right again.                          
                    (Tramp nods his head subtly. The clock ticks for a     
                    few seconds. Tramp walks over to the cupboards and     
                    picks up the knife that is on the top and begins       
                    to play it.)                                           
               Tramp: Where’s your baby?                                   
                    Tramp indicates with the knife to the room with        
                    the cot. Pause.                                        
               Well? I know there’s no baby in there. Was it a boy or      
               a girl?                                                     
               Man: Neither, are you done? (Standing and gesturing to      
               Tramp to leave)                                             
               Tramp: What? Ha. Don’t bullshit me and tell me its not      
               yours. I know you’d be lying. I know a lot more than        
               you think,                                                  
                    (Staring back at the cot)                              
               And this house just ain’t no home. I know.                  
                    (Back at Man)                                          
               I know you want me to go. I’m intruding and you want me     
               to leave. Don’t worry I know you are. But no, I think       
               I’ll stay.                                                  
               Man: Your hand’s fixed, I need to sleep now.                
               Tramp: You’re not going to sleep. And you’re forgetting     
               Man: I would appreciate it if you got out of my home        
               now please!                                                 
               Tramp: No no- it’s important. I don’t suppose you could     
               spare some food could you?                                  
               Man: (Firmly) I don’t have any food.                        
                                   Scene Three                             
                    (A deep rumble begins to build. The tramp stares.      
                    As the rumble begins to build, he walks towards        
                    Man till they are face to face.  Man begins to         
                    panic but his feet remain planted, then silence.)      
               (Changing the subject and in a lighter tone) Yeah, you      
               are tired. You haven’t slept for days, I can see it in      
               your eyes. You look like shit.                              
                    (Putting the knife back on the counter as he moves     
                    back to the seat)                                      
               There’s a lot of pain in those eyes. When was the last      
               time you slept? I bet you don’t remember. It’s whats        
               behind those eyes that’s keeping you awake.                 
                    (He smiles)                                            
               Your mind plays tricks.                                     
               Man: I know this. Why are you telling me this? I don’t      
               need your help.                                             
               Tramp: (Holding the nearly empty whiskey bottle by its      
               neck and looking at the contents) Your eyes are all         
               Man: I haven’t been able to sleep.                          
               Tramp: I know this. Why are you telling me this?            
                    (Tramp opens the bottle of whiskey and drinks the      
                    remaining contents.)                                   
               You weren’t going to finish that, were you?                 
                    (Man shakes his head.)                                 
               Good. It would have been rude of me if you were. It’s       
               not helpful though, turning to alcohol in an act of         
                    (Tramp wipes his mouth)                                
                    (Tramp stands up and paces about the kitchen           
                    again. He giggles at Man as he passes him. He          
                    looks at the photos on the wall, items on the work     
                    surface etc. He stops centre stage.)                   
               Tramp: You wouldn’t have helped me if I hadn’t come         
               knocking on your door. Would you?                           
               Man: I probably wouldn’t have but I did, so could you       
               please leave?                                               
               Tramp: (Firmly) I’d be grateful if you had just a bit       
               more patience.                                              
                    (Tramp sits down. He begins to bite his toe nails      
                    and lick his feet. He stops. Pause)                    
               She was born in this house wasn’t she?                      
               Man: She was.                                               
                    (A strobe begins to flash from inside the cot, a       
                    few seconds gap between each flash. Spotlight          
                    (blue) on the cot and a baby begins to cry.  Man       
                    moves stage left, he stands staring into the cot.      
                    The cry grows louder and louder. We hear sounds of     
                    a violin. Overcome with fear he runs back into the     
                    kitchen. The violin screeches and lights go back       
                    to normal as he enters.)                               
               Man: What was that?                                         
               Tramp: It’s time to accept the past.                        
                                   Scene Three                             
                    Man becomes emotional and makes his way to the         
                    table and sits down. Tramp takes out a packet of       
                    cigarettes; he passes man one across the table.        
                    Man puts the cigarette in his mouth, picks up the      
                    box of matches and lights it. Tramp does the same.     
                    They begin to smoke.                                   
               Tramp:(Indicating towards Man’s wedding ring) Married?      
               Man: (Covering his hand) Not for a while now.               
               Tramp: I know. And you loved her too didn’t you?            
               Man: Of course I did.                                       
               Tramp: I know you did. I heard it all. An unexpected        
               home birth would be quite a challenge I imagine. Scary.     
               But you took charge. And you loved the life you             
               created. You did good.                                      
                    (Man stares at Tramp. He nods. Tramp smokes)           
               I’ve never been married myself. Now, I’m not saying         
               I’ve never loved anyone of course. I guess I haven’t        
               had much luck with women. Bitches. I think I would have     
               to feel something much more than the lust to fuck them      
               to call it ’love’. I think I know what I should be          
               feeling but its not there, just empty space. I’m loyal,     
               and I strive for love, but that can only be if the          
               feeling is mutual. Maybe I’m selfish, but so are you.       
               Everyone is. Take what you felt though, I bet you would     
               have done anything in the world for her. Wouldn’t you?      
               It can crush a man, to do everything in the name of         
               love and not have it reciprocated. That’s when it all       
               changed. You got used to her and didn’t really know how     
               to make her happy anymore.                                  
               Man: I did love her.                                        
               Tramp: Yeah.                                                
               Man: I knew how to make her happy.                          
               Tramp: You thought you did. But you did love her,           
               that’s certain.                                             
               Man: I still do.                                            
               Tramp: Ha, she’s still in your head. Isn’t she. You sit     
               around alone in the house tormented by the memories of      
               your past. This house is quiet you know? It has been        
               for some time. Fuck- I wouldn’t be wanting that. I’d        
               have rammed a spoon into my head and scooped her out a      
               long time ago. Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.           
               She isn’t here. You’ve imprisoned yourself by guilt and     
               locked your door with it.  I sympathise with your loss,     
               but its not healthy. How often do you think of her?         
               Man: All of the time.                                       
               Tramp: Every night? Every day?                              
               Man: Every second.                                          
               Tramp: You need to accept she’s gone. She’s in your         
               head losening screws. It wont be long and you’ll have       
               lost your mind.                                             
               Man: I don’t see her face anymore. But I know it’s her.     
               I can still remember what she looks like but she never      
               looks at me. And when she does her face is black- she       
               wears everything black. I see her. She stands about the     
               house. I’ve seen her. Vividly. It’s like she’s still        
               here. Sometimes she doesn’t move. Sometimes she’s in        
               more than one place at more than one time. Sometimes        
               she stands looking away from the baby.  I can feel it-      
               her hate. I can feel her presence, like a weight. But I     
               just want to hold her. I feel as though I can make          
               everything right again just by holding her. And at the      
               same time I accept that this wont change anything. At       
               first I can’t touch her. Every time I reach out it          
               stings. She sends a sharp pain up my arm that clangs in     
               my head. I know what it is. Her hate. Every bad thought     
               she had about me and all the pain I caused her fired        
               back at me.                                                 
               Then it all goes away. I put my arms around her and she     
               melts inside me. Good memories emerge from the fog.         
               Then for a moment I feel happy, like I could sleep.  I      
               feel like everything is how it used to be.                  
               Then I’m left alone again.                                  
                    (Tramp laughs hysterically and puts out his            
               Tramp: You need to forget her mate!                         
               Man: I can’t forget her.                                    
                    (He too puts out his cigarette)                        
               I know what I’ve done, but I don’t want to believe it.      
               Tramp: You need to forget her. You know what you did-       
               belive it. How could you blame her? Are you dreaming?       
                    (A sudden strum of a violin. Wife enters stage         
                    right and stands facing off stage, still. She has      
                    a black emotionless mask and black night gown.)        
               Everything was going fine until? What happened? It will     
               be better if you tell me- Get it off your chest.            
                    (White lights come up slowly on Wife and the cot,      
                    and dim on Man and Tramp                               
                    Man makes his way over to wife. At first he is         
                    reluctant to touch her; he reaches out but doesn’t     
                    touch her. He touches her and there is a loud          
                    strum of a violin. He jumps and moves his hand         
                    back. This happens two more times. He steps            
                    forward and puts his arms around her and music         
                    begins to play. They hug passionately and slowly,      
                    the Wife continues to face away. Wife moves            
                    quickly offstage. Lights return to normal and Man      
                    stands empty handed. He becomes emotional but          
                    holds back from crying.                                
                    Tramp stands from his seat, and makes his way over     
                    to Man. He stands behind Man; he puts his hand on      
                    his shoulder.)                                         
               Man: (Frantically) It’s time to leave now. I have to        
               Tramp: We all know you’re knot going to sleep.              
               Man: You have to leave now.                                 
                    (He makes his way to the front door and opens it.      
                    Tramp remains where he is stood.)                      
               Get out now. Please, you have to go.                        
                    (A rumble begins; the light begins to dim on stage     
                    left. The rumble builds. Slowly from stage left        
                    walks Wife and leaves through the door. Man pulls      
                    Heeholds ontoetheehandleeforna few momentssthen.       
                    turns and slides down the door to sitting. Tramp       
                    moves into the kitchen and takes a seat.)              
               Tramp: She’s gone now, keep it closed.                      
                    (Man is still. Emotionless.)                           
               So, tell me what happened?                                  
               Man: I didn’t help her. I keep thinking she’ll come         
               back. I sometimes hope you know? I hope that this is        
               all a dream. I cant sleep because i already am. I might     
               as well be dead.                                            
               Her mother was ill. Quite seriously, and it was getting     
               worse. She went to stay the weekend, to look after her.     
               I was here with our daughter. I felt proud. We used to      
               spend days out at the park and to the seaside. It was       
               like every day was summer. But it didn’t last

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