Monday, January 14, 2013


...continuing on from THURSDAY'S CHILD # 5...


BEA, kicks and screams as she is carried down the corridor of the Mental Hospital by FOUR NURSES. MATRON and DR.CARRUTHERS look on.  MATRON feels very uneasy about what is happening to BEA.

BEA (screaming)   You’ve no right...LEAVE ME ALONE.


JOHNNO sits at his desk, in his room, at night, typing up an article.  There is a half empty bottle of wine on the desk and a cigarette burning in the ashtray.


MR. MILES, puts on his dressing gown as he moves down the hallway towards the front door; stopping for a moment before he opens it, to straighten his hair with his hands.  He opens the door.  FIVE JOURNALISTS start asking questions all at once, as TWO PHOTOGRAPHERS position themselves to take photos.  Out of the jumble of questions, one is clear:

JOURNALIST   What is your response to the Smith’s Weekly allegation that you forcibly incarcerated your daughter because...

MR.MILES is overcome by anger and shock: his eyes blaze.



MR. MILES paces up and down his office with his hands behind his back casting occasional glances in the direction of MR PHELPS who is reading the article, seated in a large comfortable chair.

After a long pause, during which MR. MILES becomes increasingly nervous and agitated.
MR. PHELPS   Defamatory. No doubt about it.

MR. MILES nods; relieved.


A crowded courtroom.  Bea’s legal counsel, MR. COLLINSON, questions a PSYCHIATRIST in the witness box.  MR. MILES, MR. PHELPS, MATRON, DR. CARRUTHERS, JOHNNO and GRANDMA ELLIE are in court.
MR COLLINSON   Insane, doctor?
PSYCHIATRIST   Abnormal, peculiar; yes. A little excitable... flighty...what we call manic; yes.  Neurotic, yes.  But certainly not insane.
MR COLLINSON   Eccentric?
PSYCHIATRIST (smiles)   Eccentric, certainly...I mean she...
PSYCHIATRIST   She made me sit for her sanity test... before she let me give her mine.
MR COLLINSON (amused)   How did you do?
PSYCHIATRIST   I passed, narrowly. She was very exacting.

Laughter in court.  A look of relief passes over BEA’s face.  MR. MILES writes something on a pad and shows it to MR. PHELPS.


BEA in witness box being questioned by MR COLLINSON.
MR COLLINSON   Do you see how your behaviour could have been misinterpreted as madness?
BEA   Yes. By fools.
MR COLLINSON   How do we know that you are not mad?
MR PHELPS  (leaps to his feet)   Objection. The issue at hand is whether or not Smith’s Weekly defamed Mr. Miles. Miss Miles’ own opinions regarding her sanity are irrelevant.

MR COLLINSON   Your Honour, in light of the fact that five doctors have told the court that Miss Miles is not insane, I would have thought the question of whether or not Mr.Miles 'wrongfully committed' her - as Smith’s Weekly claims - is inextricably bound up with the question of whether or not Miss Miles was 'insane' or appeared to be 'insane' in the months prior to her committal.
JUDGE   Objection overruled.  Proceed Mr. Collinson.
MR COLLINSON   Miss Miles, how do we know that you are not mad?
BEA   Because I can admit the possibility that I might be or might seem to be. And no really mad person can do that.
MR COLLINSON   You admit the possibility?
BEA   Yes.
MR COLLINSON   Do you think that wise?
BEA   I don’t know what’s wise, obviously.
MR COLLINSON   You agree that in society’s terms your behaviour appears, at times, to be eccentric.
BEA   Yes.


MR. PHELPS cross-examines BEA.

MR PHELPS   You say you have a high regard for your father; that you love your father?
BEA   Yes.
MR. PHELPS   Then why did you choose to bring him so much grief?
BEA   I didn’t choose to do that. He chose to react with grief to what I did.
MR. PHELPS   And why did you behave in the way you did?
BEA   For fun.
MR. PHELPS   For fun?
BEA   Yes. The intelligent woman’s reason for being unconventional in public.
MR. PHELPS   Even when it brings you into conflict with the police, with your family and results in your being declared insane and put in a mental hospital?
BEA   I am responsible for my actions. Not society’s reactions.
MR. PHELPS   Society has no reason to react in the way it does?
BEA   No good reason. Society applauds the man who dies climbing up a Himalayan mountain for glory’s sake or freezing to death in the quest to be the first to reach the South Pole. Society calls these deeds achievements and what I do, madness. I am not responsible for society’s reactions.

There are murmurs in the courtroom and some tentative applause.  JOHNNO smiles.
MR PHELPS   You are responsible only to yourself?
BEA   Yes, so long as I don’t hurt anyone. Physically.
MR PHELPS   Do you seriously contend that you have not hurt anyone?
BEA   Not physically. Other people’s mental hurt, as a rule, is not, should not and cannot be my business.

She looks at her father.  MR. MILES looks away.


MR. MILES is in the witness box.  He seems forthright and honourable; arrogant but concerned.
MR COLLINSON   You opposed conscription in the Great War.

MR. MILES   Yes.
MR COLLINSON   You believe that an individual should not be forced by society to do what he did not want to do.
MR MILES    Yes.
MR COLLINSON   You believe in the freedom of the individual?

MR. MILES   Yes. (HE SHOOTS A GLANCE AT BEA.) And along with that freedom I believe comes a measure of responsibility.
MR COLLINSON   But your daughter Bea was too free for your taste.
MR. MILES   No, too irresponsible.
MR MILES    I’m not sure the distinction matters. Hurtful, yes. Distressing, yes. In the case of her poor mother probably fatal.

BEA, distressed, looks down.
MR COLLINSON     But surely that distinction is what we are here for?
MR. MILES (impassioned)   No. What we are here for is to decide whether I acted properly in dealing as I did with a situation that was ignominious and painful beyond belief. A situation that, in all possible ways, threatened the stability and the reputation and the health and the peace of mind of the family of which I was head. A situation that, however unjustly, was worsened by my daughter’s illness, and her deranged behaviour thereafter.
MR. COLLINSON   Deranged.
MR. MILES   Yes.
MR. COLLINSON  Like having an untidy room, and staying out late?
MR MILES (emphatically)  And coming home in the charge of police for having behaved indecently in public. And risking her life in the pursuit of a free lift she could well afford.
MR COLLINSON     Deranged?
MR. MILES   Yes.

BEA looks down.
MR. COLLINSON   Not just high spirited.
MR. MILES   You have not lived with it. You could not know.
MR. COLLINSON   And you had no choice?
MR. MILES   I did not think so.

He looks away. BEA is looking away too.
MR COLLINSON    But what brought you to it? Was it just your overseas trip? And that Beatrice might be an inconvenience while you travelled overseas?

Some of the JURY look shocked at this.
MR MILES (angry)   And that Beatrice might disappear while we were overseas with her, and never see her again.
MR COLLINSON    So you had her committed.
MR. MILES   Not just for that reason.
MR. COLLINSON   What other reason?
MR MILES (backing off)   It was a culmination of many reasons. Including her illness.
MR. COLLINSON   And she was deservedly put in a place where she was strangled into unconsciousness?

A look is exchanged between MR MILES and BEA. MR MILES looks down.
MR. MILES   I was not aware of those things.
MR. COLLINSON    Do you love your daughter Mr. Miles?
MR. MILES   Yes I do. Very much.

He looks down. BEA's eyes cloud over with tears.
MR COLLINSON   Then why did you do it? What did she do to you?

MR MILES   It was what she did to the family.
MR. COLLINSON   Nothing she did to you personally.
MR. COLLINSON   Mr. Miles. I want to read something to you.

He opens a manila folder and reads from a letter.
MR. COLLINSON   "When I put Beatrice into the hands of Dr Carruthers for disciplinary and psychoanalytic treatment, it was not because I expected any good result, but merely to get final proof that Beatrice’s trouble was a psychosis as distinct from a neurosis..."

There is loud murmuring in the court.  BEA looks at MR MILES in horror.  MR MILES, caught between shame and anger, whispers urgently in MR. PHELPS' ear.

MR. COLLINSON (reading)   "I really had no doubt myself but needed to satisfy others..."

MR. PHELPS leaps into his feet.
MR. PHELPS   Objection.
MR. COLLINSON   It's relevant your honour.

Uproar in the court.
MR. PHELPS   Your Honour, this is private communication between my client and...
JUDGE   Objection overruled. Continue Mr. Collinson.
MR. COLLINSON   There is another letter, Mr. Miles, dated the 9th December.

MR. MILES is sweating profusely; absolutely terrified.

MR. COLLINSON (reading)   "On several occasions I was obliged physically to chastise Beatrice. I mean I had to hit her. It was my belief that she was suffering from a'father fixation'. One night...

MR. MILES leaps to his feet.

GRANDMA ELLIE lowers her head; ashamed.

BEA's eyes are on her father.
MR. MILES   I wish to confer.
JUDGE   Yes, alright.

MR. COLLINSON looks triumphantly at BEA. She is tense and tearful. MR. MILES and Mr. Phelps confer silently, JOHNNO is excited.
MR. PHELPS   My client would like a brief recess, your Honour.
JUDGE   Oh, very well. Adjourned for half an hour.


MR. PHELPS leans over BEA and MR. COLLINSON, speaking softly.
MR. PHELPS   Mr. Miles will withdraw his case and pay costs, and undertake never again to attempt to have Miss Miles committed if she and Smith’s Weekly in turn will undertake not to pursue this matter any further legally.
BEA (not understanding)   What!

MR COLLINSON (puzzled)   Pay costs?
MR. PHELPS   And furthermore give Miss Miles an allowance of seven pounds a week. In perpetuity.
MR. COLLINSON   Cripes, that’s more than I get.
BEA   Seven pounds!

MR. COLLINSON   Why’s he want to stop now?


BEA makes her way through the crowded foyer of the Courthouse, brushing aside the many people who want to congratulate her (including JOHNNO), to stand at the top of the Courthouse steps and look down onto the street where her father confers with Mr. PHELPS.  MR. MILES, looks drained and defeated, shakes MR. PHELPS' hand; thanking him.

BEA looks at her father; her face filled with the complex mixture of feelings she has for him.  JOHNNO observes from a distance.  MR. MILES, sensing her daughter’s gaze, looks briefly at her as he says goodbye to MR. PHELPS: his face old and grey; his eyes sad.  BEA watches him get into his car and drive off. JOHNNO waits for a moment before walking up behind BEA, putting his arms around her and kissing her.

JOHNNO     Hello Bright Eyes.

BEA turns to face him.  Her smile is restrained.
BEA   Hello Johnno.
JOHNNO   Congratulations.

BEA looks away and nods. She is thinking of her father.
JOHNNO   A free woman.
BEA (sad; ironic)   A free woman!

JOHNNO nods, smiles.  BEA’s mood improves.
BEA   Thanks Johnno.
JOHNNO   Come on, let’s celebrate.
BEA   Where?
JOHNNO (wicked grin)   My place.

BEA laughs. JOHNNO takes her arm and they walk down the steps in the direction of his motor-bike. BEA sees a tram moving down the street.
BEA (excited)   Race you ...
She leaps down the remaining steps and runs out into the traffic to chase and then leap onto the tram; looking back at JOHNNO when she is safely on the tram. JOHNNO is still standing there watching BEA on the retreating tram; smiling.


BEA stands on the running board of a fast-moving tram, hanging out over the road; excited. JOHNNO pulls alongside on his motor-bike. They look at each other and laugh.

BEA   Still want to marry me?
JOHNNO   If you want to.

BEA   I’ve changed my mind.

JOHNNO   Whatever you want.

BEA   You don’t mind?
JOHNNO (laughing)   Not at all.
BEA   Johnno?
JOHNNO   Yes, Bea.
BEA   We can still have a honeymoon though! Can’t we?
JOHNNO (laughs)   Sure.

BEA is oblivious to the commotion her hanging off the side of the tram has caused.  Her hair whips around her face.  She is smiling, happy.  She either does not hear or chooses to ignore the angry shouts of a tram conductor.

TRAM CONDUCTOR   You can’t do that, Miss...


BEA breaks eggs into a pan on a gas ring in a small kitchen alcove in her room.  On a desk, amidst the cluttered confusion of the room, are wildflowers that BEA has been pressing and mounting in a school exercise book. JOHNNO, dripping wet, stands in the middle of the room drying himself. BEA’s attention is caught between preparing scrambled eggs and a map of Australia on the wall close to where she is standing.
BEA (looking at the map)   ...No, I think we should forget Albury...go through Gundagai...follow the Murrumbidgee to the Murray for a couple of days at the fork of the two rivers...then on to...
JOHNNO (laughs)   Slow down, Bright Eyes!
BEA   Unless you particularly want to go to Albury...
JOHNNO    Fact is, I can’t go right now.
BEA (deflated)   JOHNNO!
JOHNNO   A mate’s got himself into a spot of bother...
BEA (annoyed)   And?
JOHNNO   I said I’d help him out.
BEA   You said we were going to have honeymoon, too.
JOHNNO   Couple of weeks won’t make any difference.
BEA (angry)  Well, it makes a big difference to me. I’m going anyway.
JOHNNO   Separate honeymoons.
BEA   You’re a bastard Johnno.
JOHNNO   Sorry.

BEA looks down at the eggs.
BEA   How do you like your eggs?
JOHNNO   Don’t care.
BEA   Good.

She tips the pan of dried burnt scrambled eggs onto his plate.


JOHNNO sits astride his motorbike at the side of the road in lush dairy country; BEA stands alongside unstrapping her large swag and cloth dilly bag.  She is wearing a baggy white pair of shorts, a white shirt and a white tennis shade.
JOHNNO   Will you miss me?
BEA   No.
JOHNNO   Nor me you.
BEA   You think you’re the ant’s pants, don’t you?
JOHNNO (grins)   Bye Bright Eyes.

They kiss and look at each other for a moment. JOHNNO kick starts his motorbike, does a U-turn and drives off. BEA stands there, taking in her surroundings; excited.

As the sound of Johnno’s motor-bike trails away the sounds of insects, birds and the breeze in the trees become audible and soon the only sound that can be heard. A beautiful silence. Cows in a nearby paddock stare at BEA.  She stares back.

BEA (loud)   Mooo...

COW   Mooo...

BEA laughs.  She hears the sound of a vehicle approaching.


NEIL JENKINS, bare to the waist and sweating in the hot sun, lifts a 12ft log and holds it in position as YORKIE, an Aboriginal helper, guides one end of it into the cleft that has been cut into an upright post. They are midway through building an animal pen that is attached to a near complete barn. The sound of an approaching truck causes NEIL to look up.

Through the cracked and mud-bespattered windscreen of an old truck, as it bumps across a rough red dirt road, BEA sees NEIL and YORKIE working on the animal pen. Nearby is NEIL’s roughly hewn bark slab hut, around which goats, pigs and chickens roam freely. NEIL lives alone in this valley; most of which is still virgin bush. Only a few acres have been cleared and planted with banana trees. A little further down the valley, smoke can be seen rising from fires in a small Aboriginal camp. BEA is sitting beside GEORGE - the craggy-faced driver of the truck, the back of which is piled high with building supplies.

As the truck gets closer BEA waves to NEIL. He does not see BEA at first but swings around suddenly when it registers that there is someone else in the cabin. When he realizes that it is BEA, his face lights up. He stops work and moves towards the truck, which has almost come to a standstill.

BEA is beaming from ear to ear as she gets out and stands a few feet away from NEIL, who is wiping his sweaty hands on his trousers unable to contain his excitement at seeing her.
GEORGE   Mornin’ Neil.
NEIL (his eyes on Bea)   G’day George.

BEA and NEIL stand smiling at each other for a moment, unsure how to greet each other, as Yorkie and George look on. BEA moves towards NEIL.  He takes her in his strong arms and holds her tight.  BEA rests her head on his chest and holds him tight for a moment.  They part and look at each other.
NEIL   So…here y’are.

BEA nods, smiles happily.
NEIL   Yorkie, this ‘ere’s Beatrice.  She’s come t’help us with th’barn. be continued...

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