Saturday, January 12, 2013


...continuing on from THURSDAY'S CHILD # 4...


BEA, leans up against the wall at the end of her bed in the Refractory Ward, writing in a school exercise book with a fountain pen. It is evening. Some of the patients are in bed; others are engaged in various bizarre activities.  BERYL sits in her chair trembling and sweating.  MRS LANDING, in the bed next to BEA, is reading a book. 
BEA (voiceover)   My observations of insanity have led me to the conclusion that I am not mad and I long heartily for my freedom. Though I feel keenly the loss of my liberty, I am happy-natured enough to bear the loss of it with reasonable equanimity. The experience is not doing me any harm and besides, I am developing my powers of observation and comprehension every day. The only change in me is that I am wiser...

BERYL has begun to make low moaning noises. BEA looks up from her writing and MRS. LANDING from her book.
BEA   Beryl, why don’t you use the toilet?

BERYL  Can’t.
BEA   Why?
BERYL (with great pathos)   Haven’t got a penny.

BEA and MRS. LANDING laugh.  BEA leaps off her bed.
BEA   Come on. I’ll lend you a penny.
BERYL   Alright.

BEA takes BERYL's hand and leads her to the toilet, past  KITTY, who lies on her bed nursing her fist; whispering quietly to it.


BEA, a little after dawn, stands at the end of her bed, looking out through a small window, onto the hospital garden, in which stands a large jacaranda tree.
BEA (voiceover)   I stand at the back of the bed and gaze at a magnificent jacaranda tree which fills the central garden. Mauve flowers, garden leaves, and a grey sky. What an idea for an outfit...

The camera moves past BEA’s head, dissolving through to:


Bea sits under the jacaranda tree writing in her journal.  It is early summer and the mauve flowers are being blown loose by a light breeze and falling all around her.
BEA (voiceover)   ...Shall ask Grandma to buy me some grey linen for a frock, some green silk for underclothes and a piece of mauve ribbon for a belt...

GRANDMA ELLIE approaches, unseen by BEA, her arms full of parcels.
BEA (voiceover)   She and mum are the only relatives who care about my being here and, to allay any misery I may feel, she buys me everything I ask for.

GRANDMA ELLIE stops a few feet away from BEA looking at her lovingly for a moment.  BEA is so absorbed by her writing that she does not notice.

BEA leaps to her feet.
BEA   Gran!

She hugs her grandmother; the parcels get in the way.
BEA    You’re so good to me.
GRANDMA ELLIE (smiling)   I probably shouldn’t be.

BEA takes the parcels happily.
BEA    How’s dad?  Mother?
GRANDMA ELLIE   They’re still in Italy. Your mother’s poorly. They may have to come home.
BEA    Oh.
GRANDMA ELLIE   I’m sure she’ll be right dear.
BEA you think I’m mad?
GRANDMA ELLIE (evasive)   No dear. None of us think you’re mad. You just needed a rest.
BEA  It would have been more restful in Italy.
GRANDMA ELLIE  Do you want some more books?
BEA   Yes. Yes I do. I have a list...

BEA takes a folded sheet of paper from her pocket.
GRANDMA ELLIE   Matron tells me you’ve settled down nicely and...

GRANDMA ELLIE pauses for dramatic effect.
BEA   And!?
GRANDMA ELLIE   That you can come shopping in town with me one day next week.
BEA throws her arms excitedly around her grandmother.
BEA (happy)   Bosker!


BEA, in a grey frock, with a mauve ribbon for a belt, at the far end of the hospital garden, pacing up and down the high wall surrounding it; her copy of Shakespeare’s Collected Works in her hand. She reads a passage, commits it to memory, closes the book.

BEA   "Fear no more the heat o’ the sun; Nor the furious winter’s rages..."

MATRON watches BEA through her office window some distance away. Behind her stands a grim-faced MR. MILES.

BEA paces up and down by the wall; reciting.
BEA   "Fear not slander, censure rash..."
MATRON (voice off)  Bea.

BEA looks up and sees MATRON, some distance away, beckoning her.  She walks towards MATRON.

MATRON  Your father’s here...

BEA’s eyes light up and she looks past MATRON to where MR. MILES stands on the gravel driveway outside the Admissions Office. BEA begins to run excitedly towards him, not noticing, as she rushes past her that MATRON is visibly upset.

BEA (calling out)  Dad!

As she gets closer, BEA registers the grim expression on his face. Her pace slows, her smile fades.  She stops a few yards from him, looking at him quizzically. MR. MILES will not look at her.

BEA  Dad!?

There is a long silence.
MR. MILES  Your mother’s dead.

BEA looks at her father; devastated.
BEA  No!

MR. MILES is trembling. It is increasingly difficult for him to hold his feelings back. BEA moves up to her father and puts her arms around him.

BEA (crying)  Oh, dad.

MR. MILES stiffens and pulls away.  BEA looks at him - her grief heightened by his rejection.  She opens her mouth to speak but no sound comes out.  MR. MILES stands frozen, like a statue, staring into space.  MATRON looks on from a distance.  MR. MILES, his eyes filled with tears, turns to look at BEA.
MR. MILES  You broke your mother’s heart.

BEA is so shocked by this that she is unable to respond. MR. MILES turns and walks to his car. BEA stands frozen, overwhelmed by despair.  MATRON moves forward, standing for a moment a few feet from BEA looking at her with almost maternal concern. BEA turns to look at her. MATRON moves forward, taking BEA in her arms.  BEA rests her head on Matron’s breast and cries uncontrollably.
MATRON   It was a kidney infection. Your mother died of a kidney infection.


Through a rain-streaked window, TWO NURSES can be seen looking outside. Behind them, in the dining room, patients at their dinner.  MATRON appears and looks through the window also. From her point of view, BEA can be seen standing some distance away in the garden, close to the now leafless jacaranda tree.  Her clothes are soaking wet. She looks up into the torrential rain - crying in desperation.


OLD BEA, her face wet with tears, holds MOLLY’s hand still, as a nurse, with two fingers on the old lady’s neck checks for a pulse and shakes her head.  BEA places MOLLY’s hand under the cover, which the nurse then pulls up over MOLLY’s grey face.  As she stands, the pain of her arthritis causes BEA to grimace.


Bea sits next to the window of a tram crowded with early morning commuters, her SHAKESPEARE READINGS sign resting up against her knees.  She is looking out the window, in a pensive mood.  The Conductor makes her way along the aisle, collecting fares.

CONDUCTOR (friendly)   No point in asking you for your fare I suppose, Bea?

BEA snaps out of her reverie, turning to the smiling CONDUCTOR.

BEA (smiles)  No.

The CONDUCTOR moves down the aisle.


BEA stands at a mid-city intersection waiting for the lights to change; her SHAKESPEARE RECITALS sign around her neck. People around BEA react in different ways.  Children stare, some adults studiously ignore her and others exchange smiles and glances. BEA is oblivious to them all. The lights change. The traffic stops.  BEA scans the cars quickly and then makes her way through the traffic, as fast as her old legs will allow in the direction of a vacant taxi.  The driver - FRANK - notices her approach too late and tries, unsuccessfully, to lock the front-side passenger door before BEA opens it.  His face falls as BEA settle into the seat beside him.

FRANK   Oh no!
BEA (smiling)   Hello, Frank.
FRANK (exasperated)   Please Beatrice...
BEA (raucous voice)   What’s wrong with you, you’re empty.
FRANK   I’m engaged. I’ve got a pick up.
BEA   That’s alright. I don’t mind a detour. Don’t mind company.
FRANK   For Christ’s sake Beatrice, I’ve had a hard day. Me wife left me last week...
BEA   I’m sorry to hear that Frank, what did you do to her?
FRANK   Oh Jesus.

A WOMAN comes up and knocks on the window, hailing the cab.  Then she sees BEA.

WOMAN (prim)   Oh no!
FRANK   Beatrice: get out.
BEA   No.
FRANK (getting angry)   Get out.
BEA   Frank; have I ever said I’d pay and then not pay?  Take me to Chatswood.
FRANK (in a rage)   No


The cab has pulled up beside Central Park. With one leg jammed in the door to keep it open, FRANK stands with a bucket of water poised.

FRANK (angry)   I’m warning you.

BEA    I’ve got money in Chatswood. Take me to Chatswood.

A crowd is gathering.
VOICE IN CROWD  Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?
2nd VOICE IN CROWD   We’re on your side, Beatrice. 

FRANK throws the bucket of water over BEA.  She squawks, drenched.
FRANK (angry)   Get out you smelly old bitch.

This is too much for BEA.  She sees red, gets out of the cab and in one brute action rips the door off its hinges and throws it on the road. The crowd cheers.


BEA sits on a bunk in a Police Station cell rolling herself a cigarette. In the background, on a counter on which rests the taxi door, a small GROUP OF POLICEMEN laugh as one recounts how BEA ripped if off. Her cigarette rolled now, BEA lights it, takes a puff and looks up at the metal-grill covered window.  The opening bars of the Moonlight Sonata mingle with the laughter of the policemen.



Young BEA is alone in the Hospital Recreation Room playing the Moonlight Sonata on the piano with considerable feeling.  A nurse enters.

BEA stops playing.
NURSE  Matron wants you.

BEA looks worried.
BEA   Why?
NURSE   You’ve got a visitor.

BEA looks pleased.
BEA  My grandmother?
NURSE   Your cousin.

BEA is bewildered.


BEA walks into MATRON’s office, bewildered still, to find JOHNNO, dressed in a tuxedo and bow tie, his hair slicked back, wearing a false moustache and looking very dapper.  MATRON looks bewildered.  JOHNNO rises to his feet and winks boldly at BEA.
JOHNNO   Bea, dear cousin Bea, how are you?  You look well.

JOHNNO kisses BEA on the cheek and whispers a word in her ear.

BEA (genuinely surprised    Nigel!
JOHNNO (smiling)   Beautiful as ever.
JOHNNO (to Matron)  Haven’t seen each other in years. I’ve been in India.

JOHNNO laughs and throws his hands up.
JOHNNO   I’ve made a complete mess of it I’m afraid Bea. Gran thought I’d arranged to pick you up and I thought she had. My fault really.
JOHNNO looks at his watch and begins to move towards the door, taking BEA by the arm.
JOHNNO   Wedding starts at three. We’ve got two hours. Gran’s got you a wonderful outfit.

MATRON fears she has no control over what is going on. She’s right.
MATRON   Mr Miles, this is most irregular. Whose wedding...?

JOHNNO grins from ear to ear: a real charmer.
JOHNNO   Mine.

JOHNNO pulls BEA towards the door, turning to MATRON as he goes.
JOHNNO   Oh, what time must I have Bea back by?

JOHNNO does not wait for an answer.  He walks out the door.


JOHNNO and BEA walking out of the door, into the sunshine and in the direction of the iron gates.  MATRON follows closely behind, flustered but not quite sure what to do.
MATRON   As officer in charge I am responsible …

JOHNNO keeps walking. Without looking around:
JOHNNO   I take full responsibility. (SOTTO VOCE BEA) Keep walking. Ignore her.
MATRON   Mr. Miles, you can’t just...6 o’clock.

JOHNNO waves his hand in acknowledgment but does not look around.
JOHNNO   I’ll have her back by six, don’t worry.

As they walk down the drive-way the figure of MATRON on the steps becomes smaller and smaller. Close to a big black shiny car, a UNIFORMED CHAUFFEUR opens the passenger door. BEA gets in.


BEA   How did you know I was here?
JOHNNO (talking fast)   I read about your mother, called your father, who told me you were studying in Europe, spoke to your grandmother, who gave me a few clues, did a bit of journalistic sleuthing and...(here I am).
BEA   But...they’ll catch me.
JOHNNO    Won’t matter. You’ll be in the custody of your husband then.
BEA   I haven’t got a husband.
JOHNNO (grinning)   You will have this afternoon. 

BEA looks at JOHNNO for a moment.  His grin broadens. 
BEA   You!

BEA   I can’t marry you!
JOHNNO (grinning)   Why not?
BEA   Because...
JOHNNO   I’ve worked it all out. We get married. I become your legal guardian. I sign the release forms. You’re are a free woman.

BEA is speechless.
JOHNNO   Simple.

JOHNNO tears off his false moustache; wriggles his nose.
JOHNNO   Tickles!


JOHNNO and BEA standing at a counter in the Registry Office talking to a somewhat intimidated but nonetheless officious CLERK. 
JOHNNO   Three days!

CLERK   I’m sorry sir, but the banns must be posted three days beforehand.
JOHNNO   Have you any idea how much it cost me to rent this suit?
CLERK   I’m sorry sir. I’m just...

JOHNNO   Yes. Yes. Give me the forms.


BEA and JOHNNO walking out of the Registry, towards his motor-bike, which is parked outside.

JOHNNO (determined)   Right, plan B! We’ve got to keep you out of sight for three days. Now I can either fix you up with somewhere to stay or you can come and stay with me...

BEA overwhelmed by the pace at which all this is happening.
BEA   Well...
JOHNNO   You can have the bed and I’ll have the couch.

BEA   Um...Righto...
JOHNNO   Hungry?

BEA nods.


BEA and JOHNNO sitting at a small table in a popular bohemia coffee lounge of the day, finishing off their meals. On the wall in the background is a flamboyantly colored poster: SPANISH NIGHT - Friday 4th. Two bohemians of the day are decorating the lounge with large sombreros, bright coloured blankets and other things Spanish.

BEA   You don't marry someone you barely know!
JOHNNO (grins)   No, I suppose not!.
BEA   Then why?

JOHNNO  Might be my only opportunity, mightn’t it?
BEA    To what?

JOHNNO smiles and holds out his arms: as if to say "To do what I’m doing now".  He takes a mouthful of food.
JOHNNO (chewing)   Might be dead this time next week.
BEA   You’re a strange one, Johnno.
JOHNNO  (looking at Bea’s clothes)   Got to get you something for tonight.

BEA is intrigued by JOHNNO; has never net anyone quite like him.


BEA, dressed in scarlet and black Spanish dress, dancing with JOHNNO (dressed as a matador) in the coffee lounge at night, along with a small crowd of senors and senoritas, to an upbeat number played by three non-Spanish guitarists.

JOHNNO (deadpan)   Your eyes.
BEA (laughs)   You don’t marry someone because of their eyes!

JOHNNO looks directly into her eyes, but says nothing.
BEA   And if I say 'no'?
JOHNNO   Back to the madhouse.
BEA   And if I say 'yes', I trade my father for a husband.

JOHNNO   The frying pan or the fire? "That is the question."
BEA   I will be a disobedient wife.
JOHNNO   I sincerely hope so.

They look directly into each other’s eyes for a long moment.
BEA (impulsive)   I want to show you something.

She takes his hand and pulls him towards the door.


BEA runs excitedly through the Botanical Gardens, leading JOHNNO in the direction of a large and predominantly glass Herbarium.  From behind a bush she removes a small plate of loose glass, grins mischievously at JOHNNO and climbs through the hole.


BEA’s small figure appears at the far end of the Herbarium filled with hundreds of shrubs, ferns and exotic plants of different varieties; glowing a strange green in the moonlight. She looks around excitedly and then down to where JOHNNO is halfway through the hole. She places her fingers over his eyes.
BEA    You mustn’t look till I tell you.

JOHNNO stands. BEA takes her hands from his eyes.
BEA    My wedding present...For you.

JOHNNO opens his eyes and looks at the sea of iridescent green and then, his face broken in a smile, at BEA; her head a little to one side, observing his reaction with the expectancy of a child eager to please.

BEA (softly)   It’s my secret place. You’re the only one I’ve ever brought here.

JOHNNO looks at her.

BEA (impulsively)   Come on.

She takes JOHNNO’s hand, leading him down an aisle, between shelves packed with pots, to a corner in which hangs an extraordinary fern with hundreds of long green tendrils hanging in a green curtain from a slab of bark.
BEA   This is my favourite.

BEA places her hand under the curtain of green tassels, pulling it towards her so that they run through her fingers.  When she looks up JOHNNO is looking directly at her.
BEA   Do you like it?

JOHNNO steps close to BEA. She looks back at him. He touches her face and neck gently, kissing her lightly. BEA stands, her arms hanging limply at her side, offering no resistance.

BEA (softly)   I’ve never done this before.
JOHNNO continues to caress her.


BEA and JOHNNO stride confidently through the door of the Registry Office - arm in arm; very happy. The CLERK looks at them fearfully as they approach, then over to where MR. MILES, TWO NURSES a POLICEMAN and MR PHELPS (Mr. Miles’ solicitor) stand.  BEA and JOHNNO follow the line of the CLERK’s vision and stop dead in their tracks.  There is a moment of unnatural stillness. No-one moves.  BEA and MR. MILES' eyes lock for an instant. be continued...

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