Tuesday, January 15, 2013


...continuing on from THURSDAY'S CHILD # 7


BEA and JOHNNO, early in the morning, lying naked in each other’s arms in JOHNNO's bed.  BEA's happiness is tinged with apprehension as to how JOHNNO will react to what she has to say.
BEA   Johnno...ever wanted to be a father?
JOHNNO   Not yours.
BEA   Have your own child?
JOHNNO   Maybe...one day.

BEA leans on one elbow, looking at JOHNNO.
BEA   How about 200 days?
JOHNNO   Full of surprises aren’t you?
BEA   What do you think?
JOHNNO   Change your life.

BEA   We could go to Western Australia. The three of us.  On your motorbike. Start a tribe in the desert. Go Aboriginal.
JOHNNO (smiling)   You're dreamer Bright Eyes.

BEA holds her hand up, indicating an inch with her spread fingers.
BEA   It’s that big already.
JOHNNO   You really want a child?

BEA touches her stomach.
BEA   Yes.

JOHNNO puts his hand on BEA's stomach, looks at her and smiles.
JOHNNO   Mummy.


BEA, in a white dress and carrying a bunch of colorful spring flowers, walks into a large Anglican church. 'Jerusalem' can be heard playing on the organ. Shafts of late afternoon sun shine through stained glass windows. FOGARTY, hidden from view at first, plays the organ in the otherwise deserted church. BEA moves slowly down the aisle - her face peaceful; calm. When he sees BEA, FOGARTY stops playing the organ and looks at her. BEA smiles serenely.
BEA   It’s beautiful here.

FOGARTY is moved by this vision of BEA. He continues to play the organ.  BEA stands alone in the vast church; ecstatically happy.


The loud clanking of the cell door opening snaps OLD BEA out of her reverie.
POLICEMAN   Time, Bea!

As she gets up from her bunk, a sudden stab of arthritic pain causes BEA to grimace.


BEA is lounging on the bench in front of the court reserved for Legal Counsel.  She has stopped midway through a game of Patience she is playing with cards on the table, to listen to the results of the Psychiatric Report. 
DR. FRITH   ...Her vocabulary and range of information and comprehension are at a superior level and there is no apparent impairment in her powers of abstraction...

The MAGISTRATE, who has been flipping through the 2 inch thick BEATRICE MILE file in front of him, interrupts DR FRITH.
MAGISTRATE   Yes, yes, thank you Doctor. It’s probably a foolish question, Bea, but why...?
BEA points at FRANK, the taxi-driver.
BEA   His behaviour was quite ungentlemanly. That’s no way to treat a lady. And what’s more...
MAGISTRATE (sighs)   Miss Miles, I am afraid I must bring to your attention that this is the 200th occasion...

There is loud applause, laughter and cheering in court.

MAGISTRATE (loud)   Order!

The Prosecuting Counsel, MR CRICK, is new on the job.
MR CRICK   Your Honor?
MAGISTRATE   Yes Mr. Crick.
MR CRICK  The defendant in her deposition describes herself, your Honor, as a student...
MAGISTRATE   She is a student of life, Mr. Crick.
MR CRICK   Oh! (PAUSE)) Your Honor, the defendant is also charged with resisting arrest and calling the arresting officer an ugly mug copper...
BEA   It’s an accurate description.
MAGISTRATE   Accuracy is no defense, Miss Miles, in the State of New South Wales.
BEA   Then I’ll appeal to the high Court …
MAGISTRATE   Miss Miles, I must remind you...
BEA (interrupting)   I’d appreciate it Wally, if you’d dispense with the advice and get on with it. I’ve got an appointment.
MAGISTRATE   An appointment!
BEA   Yes, and I’m running late. What’s the verdict?

MAGISTRATE   Er...guilty. Five pounds for assault and fifteen pounds damages to taxi door. 28 days to pay. In default 36 days hard labor.
BEA   I’ll take the 36 days...I’m not going to give him a farthing.

BEA points at FRANK.
BEA   And what’s more, Wally, the state of justice in New South Wales...
MAGISTRATE (sighs)   Your appointment, Bea!
BEA   Righto! I’m going.

BEA turns and walks, with great dignity, from the courtroom.


BEA, on the road, talks with SYLVIE as she moves her cab forward from fifth to fourth in the Taxi Rank. A BESPECTACLED MAN with both arms full of parcels, looks in through the window.

SYLVIE (incredulous)   Western Australia!?  Today!?

The BESPECTACLED MAN, unable to catch SYLVIE's attention, opens the back door and proceeds to put his parcels on the back seat.
BEA   Tomorrow’d be O.K....
SYLVIE   That’s a 6000 mile round trip!

BEA   I’ve got to go, Sylvie. I was always going there and I’ve never been. It’s the one corner of Australia I’ve never seen.

SYLVIE   I can’t Bea. I’ve got a family...and anyway, you couldn’t afford it.

The BESPECTACLED MAN gets into the back seat, alongside his parcels.
BEA   Don’t worry about the money, Sylvie. I’ve got a plan.
SYLVIE   I’d like to Bea, but...Ted would shit himself... I’m sure you could find someone else.

BEA   I want to go with a mate.
SYLVIE   Where will you be tomorrow?
BEA (excited)   Thanks Sylvie...
SYLVIE   I’m not promising. I’ll talk to Ted but I know he’ll shit himself.
BEA   Fogarty’s...St David’s.
SYLVIE   I’ll try. No promises.

BEA crosses her fingers on both hands, holds them up and smiles.  SYLVIE shakes her head and turns to the passenger.

SYLVIE   Where to?


BEA makes her way down the aisle to where FOGARTY, almost totally bald now and quite large, is making preparations for some major festive event - judging by the flowers that have been attached to the end of each pew.

BEA   Fogarty.

FOGARTY (warm)   Hello Bea.
BEA   What’s going on?
FOGARTY   Big wedding tomorrow...
BEA   Ah...Fogarty?
FOGARTY   Mmmm...
BEA   Can you lend me some money?
FOGARTY   Tram or taxi?
BEA   Neither.
FOGARTY   How much?
BEA   Hundred and fifty quid.
FOGARTY   Hundred and fifty quid!!!

BEA   Well, you see it’s been raining in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia and the wildflowers...


FOGARTY lifts Bea’s swag down from the top of a cupboard in the vestry, in which also rests BEA's billy cans and other camping utensils.

FOGARTY   Be cheaper by train wouldn’t it?
BEA   No, it has to be a taxi.


BEA points to the altar wine.
BEA   Pour us both a drink and I’ll tell you.
FOGARTY   But you don’t drink!
BEA   Tonight’s an exception. I’m retiring, Fogarty.
FOGARTY (surprised)   Beatrice!
BEA   To The Little Sisters of the Poor.
FOGARTY   Oh my god, Beatrice! A Catholic old people’s home!

FOGARTY pours them both a glass of wine.
BEA   I tried to find and atheist home but there aren’t any.
FOGARTY   Well, an Anglican home is near enough.
BEA   They didn’t want me.
FOGARTY   Oh!...They’re not the most exciting places, Beatrice.

BEA   I plan to read. I calculate if  I live to be ninety and I can get through four books a week...that’s six thousand books. Don Quixote.  The Vedic Hymn Cycle. Dickens again. Darwin’s letters to Huxley...
FOGARTY    (raising his glass of wine)   Well, fresh fields to conquer.


BEA sits on her swag on the floor, leaning up against the wall; a near empty glass of wine in her hand.  FOGARTY sits back to front on a chair nearby, swirling the dregs of his wine around in the glass.  They sit, for a long moment, in companionable silence.
BEA   Ever think you’d get to be this old, Jacko? And this fast?  Makes you think, doesn’t it?
FOGARTY (slightly tipsy)   What happens to atheists when they die?
BEA   They become compost. (FOGARTY SMILES) Why aren’t you after my soul, Fogarty?
FOGARTY   Some souls I can take or leave. Some souls are...complete enough.
BEA   You’re a good man, Fogarty.
FOGARTY   Well, it’s my job.

BEA smiles at him and then yawns.
FOGARTY   You should get some sleep, old girl.
BEA   Will you tuck me in?

FOGARTY   Of course.
BEA   Fogarty?
FOGARTY   Yes Bea.
BEA  Why did you never marry?
FOGARTY   You would never have accepted.
BEA   Give me a kiss, Jacko.

FOGARTY moves over to BEA, sits on the edge of her swag and kisses her softly.

FOGARTY   Goodnight old girl.
BEA   Goodnight old boy.


It is dark now. BEA lies in her swag - alone in the church but unable to sleep. In her memory she hears 'Jerusalem' being played on the organ. Overwhelmed by the memories this remembered music evoke in her, BEA struggles out of her swag and walks to the door. Her arthritis is giving her a lot of trouble tonight.


BEA hobbles into the dimly illuminated deserted church. Fogarty's organ recital of 'Jerusalem' continues, though there is obviously no one playing the organ.

As the music builds and swells BEA watches as the church fills with light; shafts of late afternoon sun through stained glass windows illuminating BEA as a young woman - in a white dress and clutching a bunch of colourful spring flowers; a beatific smile on her face.

Close on BEA's old face as she remembers.


YOUNG BEA, in her white dress and clutching her flowers, stands with her head pressed hard against a wall in JOHNNO's room staring desperately into space. She turns to look at JOHNNO. He looks away.
JOHNNO   There’s a doctor in Bayswater Road...

BEA looks directly at him, trying to read his face but not responding to what he has said. JOHNNO turns and faces her. The directness of BEA's gaze intimidates him.

JOHNNO   I’m sorry Bea...I wasn’t thinking properly...

JOHNNO looks back at BEA to find her looking directly at him still.
JOHNNO     It's just...I’m not ready to settle down yet...Are you? Are you really ready for that?

JOHNNO, sensing a weakening of BEA's resolve, walks up to her and strokes her cheek with the back of his hand.

JOHNNO   And what are you going to do with a baby? Gad about the countryside with it tied to your back in a papoose? Jump rattlers and hitchhike to Western Australia to pick wildflowers with baby Bea in tow? Lose the thing you hold dearest in your life - your freedom? 


BEA, in her white dress, opens the front door of Fogarty’s church and walks in - her face pale and drawn; a mad look in her eyes.
BEA (loudly)   Fogarty.
Her voice echoes back to her. She realizes he is not there. When she calls his name again, it is a howl of rage.
BEA (screaming)   FOGARTY!

FADE TO BLACK as BEA's scream echoes back at her.


FADE UP FROM BLACK. BEA's echoing scream fades away. The ABORTIONIST leans over BEA, speaking matter-of-factly.
ABORTIONIST   It’s finished. Wait outside and when you feel the contractions, go to the toilet.

BEA looks at her naked knees. She is lying in a make-shift clinic - emotionally drained; beyond tears.


BEA stands in a public telephone in Kings Cross. She is very pale.
OPERATOR'S VOICE   Number please.
BEA   3024

BEA grimaces and doubles over; hit by a sudden spasm of pain.
MR MILES’ VOICE (sleepy)   Hello.
BEA (desperate)   Dad...
MR MILES’ VOICE   Beatrice!  What an earth...!
BEA   Dad...
MR MILES’ VOICE (annoyed)  Do you realize what time it is!?

BEA opens her mouth but no sound emerges.
MR MILES  Beatrice...

BEA replaces the receiver and is again hit by a spasm of pain.


BEA, in her white dress still, sits in the dark, close to the water’s edge, staring at the sea holding her stomach.


It is dawn now. BEA is curled up on the sand. A FISHERMAN walks up, staring at what appears to be a dead body. He looks at BEA and then shakes her to see if she's alive.

There is no response.


BEA wakes up in a hospital room; confused and disoriented. FOGARTY is seated on a chair close to the bed. When he sees BEA's eyes open he comes and sits on the side of the bed, taking her hand.
FOGARTY   Hello Bea.

It takes BEA a moment to work out where she is and how she could possibly have got there. She attempts to sit up but as she does so she becomes aware of the excruciating pain in her stomach. She lies back down, places her hand on her stomach and looks questioningly at FOGARTY, who becomes visibly upset.
FOGARTY   You’ve had an operation.
BEA   What kind of operation?

FOGARTY does not find it easy to answer this question.

FOGARTY   Hysterectomy.

BEA's lower jaw begins to tremble and her eyes fill with tears.  She holds FOGARTY's hand tightly.  Tears well in his eyes also.



FOGARTY, twenty years older and considerably plumper, makes his way to the lectern as organ music fills the congregation-filled church. Solemn and dignified, he looks out at his congregation as the organist begins to play the final passage. Another noise begins to intrude - that of a motorbike. It becomes louder. FOGARTY ignores it, opening his Bible. The sound of the motorbike becomes too loud to ignore. FOGARTY looks to the back of the church and catches a glimpse, through the doors, of BEA pulling up on her motorbike.


BEA, in her 40's now, her figure having filled out considerably and wearing a tattered men’s overcoat, eye-shade and round goggles, parks her dirty, dusty old motor-bike on the front porch of the church. On the back of the motorbike is tied her swag and, hanging from the sides, various camping tools and utensils. The organ music inside can be heard coming to an end. BEA removes her goggles, which have kept two neat circles on her face clean while the rest is dirty with dust. As the organ music ends, BEA takes an already-rolled cigarette from a pouch in the dilly bag around her neck.


As she makes her way into the church, BEA lights up her cigarette. FOGARTY, at the lectern, commences his sermon.
FOGARTY   "...And then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head..."

FOGARTY sees BEA walking down the aisle smiling at him, puffing on her cigarette. He tries to ignore her but she doesn't make it easy.
FOGARTY   "...not lying with the linen clothes but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in the other disciple..."

BEA's arrival causes a mild sensation amongst the congregation.  She sits in the front pew, looks up at FOGARTY; puffing on her cigarette.
FOGARTY   "...which first came to the sepulcher and he saw and he believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead..."
BEA (loudly)   Fogarty, you’re talking nonsense.

FOGARTY is lost for words.

....to be continued...

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