Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WIP On A Monday...Almost

Oooops. Got caught up in the play last night hence I forgot to post this....that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

The good news is that we have definately got a Jessica for 'Communicating Doors' so I get to play an all out baddy. In my first scene I get face to face with a dominatrix and dominate her and in my second scene I push her around. I have to be careful though, as the young lady has a bad back after a car accident a couple of years ago so I can't be too horrible. On the plus side, she gets to stick a sofa on top of my body after killing me later on in the play.

I've added another scene to 'Apollo the Thirteenth' and it's taken me in a surprising direction. Commander Anne Howe is now married after proposing to her chief medical officer on the bridge of her starship. Why? She's known him for years and it seemed like a good idea. Well, the book's a comedy so why not. I can always delete the scene later if it doesn't fit.

In addition, I've started on Act 2 of the play and it's starting to get real heavy. I was initially wondering whether I should skip the scene I'd planned, but decided to start writing it anyway to see what would happen. In the end it's turned out to be an excellent scene and ends on a philosophical note. You can read it next week.

Don't forget to enter the competition to win your choice of two ebooks. Closing date is 19th March, midnight GMT.

And now for the last scene of Act 1 of 'Tomorrow's Just Another Play'.

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Scene 6 (John Maynard's house, night time)

There is a fire in the hearth. John sits in his armchair, reading a book. Margaret sits on a wooden chair sewing while the two girls are on the floor playing chess. Elena makes a move.

Elizabeth: You can't do that. The pawn can only move one square and only forward.

Elena: So why did you move your pawn two squares?

Elizabeth: Because that was it's first move. On it's first move it can move two squares, but only forward.

Elena: You moved that pawn diagonally.

Elizabeth: That's because I took your Rook.

Elena: So pawns CAN move diagonally and more than one square at a time.

Elizabeth: Only on certain occasions.

Margaret: Stop arguing you two. Mr Maynard's trying to read.

John: (Not looking up from his book) I don't mind the noise. It makes a pleasant change from years of silence. Besides, Elena's questions are perfectly logical. (He looks up and at Elena) However, your sister is correct. Those are the rules and you have to learn to play within the rules.

Elena: But she keeps beating me.

John: You can't win all the time. As it is in chess, so it is in life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. When I used to trade between towns there were goods that I bought in one place that I made a large profit on, but others that I made a loss on. I just tried to make sure that I lost far less often than I gained, or at least, lost less money than I made elsewhere.

Elena: What did you trade?

John: I didn't specialise in anything particular. I found out what each town needed and then found somewhere that made it or grew it. I then went to the town, bought as much of the good that I thought I could sell and brought to the other town and sold it. (Puts his book on his lap) Most of my trips involved me being away for weeks at a time, going round the local towns and villages, buying and selling and whatever was leftover I brought back here. To this town. Sometimes I bought things for this house.

Elena: Like what?

John: The chair you mother's sitting on. I bought that many years ago from another trader in...I forget now, but the Carpenters in this town couldn't make anything like it, not with the detailed carving in the arms anyway.

Margaret lifts her arm and looks at it. Elena turns round and feels the arm.

Margaret: It's hard to see it properly at the moment.

Elena: It feels beautiful. Father liked beautiful things. He said that's why he married mother.

Elizabeth: Are you going to play chess, or shall I assume I've won. Again.

Elena: Mr Maynard, you said you'd tell us about your family and how they died. Are you still going to?

(Pause)

Margaret: When I was in the market, the man selling and sharpening knives wouldn't say anything about it. He, and everyone else, don't want to talk about you? Why?

John: I'm not surprised they don't want to talk. They are ashamed.

Elena: Of what?

John: Of themselves. Of what they allowed to happen.

John closes his eyes and looks at the ceiling and the women look at each other. They wait for a moment longer hoping that John will speak. He doesn't.

Elizabeth: Is it something to do with the Millers? Father said they were in charge in this town, that they were thieves and very violent.

Margaret: When did he tell you that?

Elizabeth: Last summer. He also told me what happened to you when you were engaged to one of them.

Elena: What happened? What did he do?

Elizabeth: You're too young to understand.

Elena: You always say that, but I'm twelve. I could get married.

Margaret: Elena....

John: Your sister's right. On this occasion at least. There are some things that are best left in the past and left unknown. And I think your sister wishes she didn't know.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Margaret: So why did he tell you?

Elizabeth: Because I pestered him to, I kept asking him. And then he looked at me. (Pause) You know that look he gets...got in his eyes when he was being very serious? That's the look he gave me and asked if I really wanted to know, because if I did, he would tell me and then I'd have to live with that knowledge for the rest of my life. (She looks down at the chessboard, picks up a piece and plays with it) I said I wanted to know, so he told me. I wish I didn't now, but at least I know that he loved you. Only a man who truly loved you would marry you after what happened.

Margaret: That's true.

(Pause)

Elena: Did he kiss you?

Margaret: No, dear. But if you persist, I will tell you and then you may well regret knowing.

Elena: (Looks at John) Do you think they're right?

John: I would trust your mother and sister in this if I were you.

Elena: And what about your family? How did they die?

John: I did promise didn't I. (Pause) This is going to be difficult, so I would appreciate it if you would be silent while I tell you the story.

Elena: I will (She sits down on the floor)

John: (Collects his thoughts) I left town one morning on another trading trip, though I was only going away for a few days this time. Winter was coming and I didn't want to be away when the weather changed. I loaded up my cart, made sure my horse was fit and fed and left the town. I completed my trip earlier than I expected and when I got home I found the house deserted. I waited till dusk, assuming that they were out shopping or with friends, but when night came and they hadn't returned home I went to look for them.

As I left the house, it dawned on me that the housekeeper had gone too, which was very odd. I knocked at my neighbour's door and it took several minutes before he answered. I kept knocking as I knew they were in, the light was burning in their parlour. When I asked if he knew where my family and my housekeeper were, he looked down at his shoes, mumbled something and then asked me to come in.

My wife and children had been killed. By the Millers. My wife had been...taken. By the man who was to be your husband. He then did the same to my children.

I asked what had been done and when my neighbour, who I haven't talked to since then, told me that nothing had been done except bury my family, I was incensed. He tried to remonstrate with me and remind me that the Millers owned the town, but I stormed out and went home.

As a trader you must carry a gun and a sword at all times, in case you meet a highwayman and I've had several occasions to use such weapons so I've become quite skilled. I didn't always get the best of them, but I managed to half the time.

I took these weapons from their box and marched over the inn where the Millers drank. It was late, nearly the middle of the night, when I arrived, something I made sure of. I was not so angry that I didn't want to get an advantage over them and their being drunk was an advantage I could use.

With one shot I killed that man. I put the gun against his chest and he dared me to pull the trigger. I did. His brother and father were unarmed, but decided to launch themselves at me and within a few seconds they too were dead. I looked around at the other customers, people who had been drinking and laughing with these butchers and challenged them to try me for murder, to put me in front of a judge. No one did and no one ever has. (Pause) And that's what happened to my family.

(He looks over to Margaret)

So you can imagine, that when I found out that you had returned, and also what had happened to you, I felt the need to help you in some way.

Margaret: Does that mean you know what happened?

John nods. Elena is about to say something but Elizabeth puts a hand on her lap and shakes her head.

Elizabeth: We have a lot in common, Mr Maynard.

Elena: But why do the people give you everything? Food, clothing, wood?

John: Guilt. Not long afterwards, a few days I think, they swore in a new council.

Margaret: Which is why that man was bitter at me.

Elena: Which one?

Margaret: The one we first met when we approached the town.

John: Adam. His wife left him and took the children. We don't know where they are now and no one really cares.

Elizabeth: What about the other wives and children? What happened to them? Do they still live here?

John: No. One married in the town, but the rest left. She died last year, during childbirth. She was the only member of the family not tainted by the murders and other crimes.

Elena: If the Millers were so bad, why did people put up with them? Why didn't they get rid of them earlier?

John: Fear. We all just bowed down to them, me included. Some did take a stand, like your father, and disappeared.

Margaret: My father?

John: Yes. The Millers had him killed, a year before my family.

Elena: So they give you everything as their punishment for allowing it to take place.

John: Yes. The new Mayor paid me a visit the day after he was sworn in and said that the townspeople were grateful for my actions and that no action would be taken against me. They had the remaining Millers, and their servants, jailed until a trial could be held.

Elizabeth: What was the result?

John: It never went to trial.

Elizabeth: Why not? There must have been a lot of evidence against them?

John: It never went to trial as they realised that too many people in this town had blood on their hands. Turning a blind eye to crimes, or taking part, even unwillingly. Any independent judge would condemn half the town to jail...or death.

Margaret: What happened to the Millers?

John: The last of them died in jail six months ago. A family retainer. Some were given the option of taking their own lives and did so, even though it is an unchristian thing to do. Two were poisoned. Only one of them escaped, but she was soon recovered and...accidentally drowned when she fell into the canal.

Margaret: So why did they all shun me? Did they think I was in league with the Millers? Partner to their crimes?

John: More guilt I would imagine. They've gotten used to me and my habits and have been able to live their lives as normally as possible for a while now. Now you've returned, and after the tale you've told, they are reminded of their sins.

(Silence for a few moments)

Elena: We can be a family. Our father's dead and you're family are dead.

Margaret & Elizabeth: Elena!

John: (Leans forward to Elena) I can never be your father and you can never be my daughter, and the thought of marrying again does not appeal. But that is no reason I cannot look after and provide for you, your sister and your mother.

Elena leans forward and hugs him. Margaret goes to stand, but Elizabeth grabs her mother's arm and shakes her head. Margaret sits down.

Margaret: Mr Maynard?

John: (Releases Elena) Yes?

Margaret: Now I've returned, can you be sure that the townspeople won't change their minds about giving you everything?

John: That's a thought I've been having for a while now, ever since Edward died in jail. I've heard murmurings and some people are less willing to give than they used to be.

Elizabeth: As if they feel they've been punished enough.

John: Exactly.

Margaret: Have you thought about what to do?

John: What can I do? This is my home. I've not left this town once since the death of my family. I have no business, all my contacts will have started trading with other people and I no longer have the desire to travel as I once did.

Elena: Does that mean we'll have to leave again?

There's a knock at the door. John goes to answer it. Elizabeth and Elena continue with their chess game and Margaret returns to the sewing, all deep in thought. John returns and sits down, but doesn't continue with his book.

John: It looks like there could be a problem. They can't deliver any wood tonight and hope that it won't cause too many problems, given that it's summer.

End of Act 1

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As usual, comments are very welcome.

I'll see you tomorrow and share a blog award with some lucky people. Toodlepip.

2 comments:

Milo James Fowler said...

I think you'll need to post a photo of yourself under that sofa!

Martin Willoughby said...

Milo: All anyone sees of me is my bare arm shooting through the cushions as rigor mortis sets in.