JOHANNA – Sixteen
LAUREN – Twenties
A motel room. A hot night.
‘Not Dark Yet’ by Bob Dylan is playing as the lights come up.
JOHANNA is laying forward on the bed playing cards. She has a bandage around her leg. LAUREN is packing things into her backpack. A knife in a sheath on the bedside table.
JOHANNA : Is the air-con on full?
LAUREN : It’s the best it can do.
JOHANNA : It’s your go.
LAUREN : I told you I’m not playing cards.
JOHANNA : I can’t play on my own.
LAUREN : There’s plenty of games to play on your own.
JOHANNA : I’m thirsty.
LAUREN : Get some water then.
JOHANNA : Can you get it for me?
LAUREN : No.
JOHANNA : Please.
LAUREN : I’m busy, Johanna.
JOHANNA goes to the bathroom.
JOHANNA : I hate this heat at night. I wish there were holes everywhere to let some air in.
LAUREN : You won’t say that when the rain comes.
JOHANNA : And it’s horrid.
JOHANNA comes out with a mug of water.
LAUREN : What now?
JOHANNA : The water.
LAUREN : What’s wrong with the water?
JOHANNA : Tastes funny. Tastes like metal.
LAUREN : They’re probably old pipes. The place’s been abandoned for a while.
JOHANNA : At least we’d be able to see the stars, Lauren.
LAUREN : When?
JOHANNA : If there were holes.
LAUREN : Well there isn’t.
JOHANNA : There’s a big one in the bathroom.
JOHANNA : Tastes like blood. That’s what it tastes like.
LAUREN : You know what time it is?
JOHANNA opens a tin of ravioli and sits on the bed. She eats out of the can with her fingers.
LAUREN : Don’t you start getting comfy cause it’s your turn next.
JOHANNA : It’s your turn.
LAUREN : You know it’s not my turn because I went last time.
JOHANNA : I went in the morning.
LAUREN : And I’ve been like three times since.
JOHANNA : You’ve counted wrong.
LAUREN : Johanna, you need to understand the times.
JOHANNA : But I did the times right.
LAUREN : No you didn’t.
JOHANNA : I did I promise.
LAUREN : You know the rules.
JOHANNA : I play by the rules you’re just trying to trick me. (Beat.) Ravioli?
LAUREN : You think I’ve got time for fucking games. You think the night is a card game?
JOHANNA points to her mouth. It’s full with ravioli.
LAUREN : That generator’s faulty. The timer shuts off every four hours and we can’t risk it dying on us at night. You need to re-boot it like I’ve showed you before or you’ll be sitting in the dark with no air-con at all.
JOHANNA : Sorry.
LAUREN : Stop being sorry and start learning. You know what the dark is like around here.
JOHANNA : I don’t like doing it at night.
LAUREN : You’re going to have to go down there on your own when I’m gone. How you going to survive without me? (Pause.) Well?
JOHANNA : Maybe you should wait longer.
LAUREN : There isn’t time, Johanna.
JOHANNA : Maybe the woman who brought us here will come back.
LAUREN : She’s not coming back.
JOHANNA : It’s only been two weeks.
LAUREN : We can’t live off ravioli from that rotten kitchen any longer.
JOHANNA : You could leave in the morning.
LAUREN : I have to go tonight. You never know she might have left her car up on the track.
JOHANNA : Can’t you just wait a little longer.
LAUREN : The moon won’t be full again for another month.
JOHANNA : Then take me with you.
LAUREN : You won’t make the distance with your leg.
JOHANNA : I’ll be better soon.
LAUREN : Not soon enough. Let me look at it. (She does.) Needs redressing.
LAUREN begins redressing it.
JOHANNA : The swelling’s gone down.
LAUREN : You can’t risk it getting infected.
JOHANNA : Please don’t go.
LAUREN : If we’re to make it to the coast I’ll need fuel. You realise that. If I can get up past the rails and find some then maybe one of these cars might run. I’ll be gone for like four days tops. Then we’ll get out of here.
JOHANNA : You’ll come back for me?
LAUREN : Of course I’ll come back for you.
JOHANNA : The woman never came back for us.
LAUREN : Have I ever lied to you?
JOHANNA : It would be easier if I wasn’t here though.
LAUREN : Listen to me. A lot of things would be easier if they hadn’t happened. But they happened. No-one is going to help us. We’re going to have to just look after one another from now on.
JOHANNA : Promise?
LAUREN : I promise you. You’re like a sister to me.
JOHANNA : On blood, then?
LAUREN : If the lights go out you know how hard it is trying to find that switch in the dark down there?
JOHANNA : Blood.
LAUREN : What?
JOHANNA : Promise on blood.
LAUREN : If that’s what you want?
JOHANNA throws her the knife from the bedside table. LAUREN pricks her finger.
JOHANNA cuts her lip against the ravioli can.
JOHANNA : Put it on your mouth.
LAUREN dabs her finger over her own lips. They look at each other. And kiss.
LAUREN : Okay?
JOHANNA : Tastes better than that water.
LAUREN : We can’t give up.
JOHANNA : I feel useless.
LAUREN : And I’m not letting go of you yet.
LAUREN : Nothing is going to steal you away from me.
JOHANNA : From each other, huh?
LAUREN : (Smiling.) Yea, each other, I guess. (Beat.) And I don’t want to have to come back here and waste my energy having to bury you. You’ve seen how hard it is to bury things. (beat.) Now, go be a good girl. It will go off any moment if you don’t reset it?
JOHANNA : I heard the singing again last night.
LAUREN : Don’t start with this now.
JOHANNA : But I heard it.
LAUREN pulls JOHANNA up and pushes her towards the door.
LAUREN : . I’m trying to pack.
JOHANNA : But I heard it. It’s following us.
LAUREN : You won’t be able to see down there when it goes off.
JOHANNA : When all the dogs were barking.
LAUREN : Maybe the dogs decided to sing then cause there isn’t nothing out there but dogs and desert.
JOHANNA : You were sleeping.
LAUREN : I never sleep.
JOHANNA : Yes, you do. I saw your eyes twitching. (Beat.) And you snore.
LAUREN : I don’t snore.
JOHANNA : You do too! Talking and snoring and dreaming.
LAUREN : Maybe talking but never dreaming.
JOHANNA : Mainly snoring.
LAUREN : Then my nostrils must sing.
JOHANNA : No, it was a little boy’s voice. Sounded like an angel.
LAUREN : Okay, Johanna. Well you go off with your angel to the outhouse and reset the generator and let me finish packing what I need.
JOHANNA : You want Ravioli?
LAUREN : That’s for you. Now go!
JOHANNA : (Honest.) Thanks, Lauren. . (Upset.) I’m sorry if I’m in the way.
LAUREN : Don’t you start.
JOHANNA : You’re all I’ve got now
LAUREN : We’ve got to be like those dogs. You ever see wild dogs cry?
JOHANNA : No.
LAUREN : So if that’s how they treat us we’ll be like animals.
JOHANNA : But you’re coming back for me?
LAUREN : Yes. But if something happens to me. Then you / need –
JOHANNA : Nothing / will happen because we’ve got the angel.
LAUREN : Just listen will you. (Calm.) You remember what I said?
JOHANNA : (Uninterested.) I have to walk towards the creek. Past the rails and follow the river.
LAUREN : And follow the way it flows. That’s important.
JOHANNA : Follow it all the way down to the cliffs.
LAUREN : And wait there until someone finds you. Wait for the boats.
JOHANNA : But you’ll be coming back anyway.
LAUREN : But if I don’t. That’s what you do.
JOHANNA : What do you think happened to the woman who brought us here?
LAUREN : She left.
JOHANNA : I reckon she drove into the creek. Belted up in her seat and drove into it.
LAUREN : Are you going to do the generator or what?
JOHANNA : (Happy.) Game for it?
LAUREN : No.
JOHANNA : Please?
LAUREN : I’ll only beat you.
JOHANNA : New game.
LAUREN : Which?
JOHANNA : Paper, scissor, stone.
LAUREN : That’s an old game.
JOHANNA : We’ve never played it properly before. (Beat.) Please?
LAUREN : (Gives in.) Bring your weapons then, little lady.
JOHANNA : On the bed.
JOHANNA jumps onto the bed.
JOHANNA : On your belly.
LAUREN : Yea okay yea.
They lay face to face.
JOHANNA : You ready?
LAUREN : Yes.
JOHANNA : No going back.
LAUREN : I wish you knew the rules of this game like the rules to the generator game.
JOHANNA: Okay on three
LAUREN : Hold on.
LAUREN : Yea.
JOHANNA / LAUREN : One, two, three.
JOHANNA : Scissors. LAUREN : Stone.
LAUREN : One nil.
They eye each other again.
JOHANNA / LAUREN : One, two, three.
JOHANNA : Scissors. LAUREN : Paper.
LAUREN : One all.
JOHANNA : This is it then.
LAUREN : I know.
JOHANNA : Ready?
LAUREN : (Sarcastic.) Yes, Johanna.
JOHANNA / LAUREN : One, two, –
JOHANNA : Hold on.
LAUREN : What?
JOHANNA : Need to sort my knickers.
She adjusts her underwear.
LAUREN : You think your knickers going to decide this. (She smiles.) Okay?
JOHANNA : Yessssssssssss.
JOHANNA / LAUREN : One.
LAUREN : Stone. JOHANNA : Paper.
JOHANNA : Hah! I win! You’ve gotta go now.
LAUREN : Fuck’s sake.
JOHANNA : I can’t help it if I’m lucky. (Singing.) Lucky, lucky, lucky.
LAUREN gets up and moves towards the door. Pause.
LAUREN : You’re going to die without me here, aren’t you?
JOHANNA : (Hopping on the bed.) Nope. I’ve got the angel watching.
LAUREN : Will you just quit with that.
JOHANNA : I’ll come down with you if you’re scared.
LAUREN : I’m not scared, Johanna. I want you to be able to look after yourself.
JOHANNA : I can.
LAUREN : You know someone’s always got to stay here. And keep the fucking door locked.
JOHANNA : Do you think Angels smoke?
LAUREN : Angels don’t do anything.
JOHANNA : You’re just angry cause you lost. I saw cigarette butts outside.
LAUREN : I’m leaving when I get back, okay.
JOHANNA : When you get back?
LAUREN : I’m all packed. (Beat.) Look . . . I want you to keep this safe.
LAUREN hands her the knife.
LAUREN : You use this like we did on them dogs if you have too.
JOHANNA : I got ravioli.
LAUREN : For fuck sake! If the men come here. You do like we did to those dogs.
JOHANNA : Yes, Lauren.
LAUREN : Lock the door behind me.
LAUREN opens the door to exit.
JOHANNA : You know, Lauren. Sometimes I reckon there must be holes everywhere. Things crawling up and falling down in the night. Must be a hole up in heaven.
LAUREN : (Smiling.)You think so?
JOHANNA : Yea. Fallings just like flying, really. Dropped an angel here for us. That’s why we’ve got the luck.
LAUREN : This isn’t luck.
JOHANNA : I’m lucky to have you and the angel.
LAUREN : When you going to wake up?
JOHANNA : It wakes me up.
LAUREN : You’re asleep between those ears. There’s nothing out there singing. There’s nothing. Nothing.
JOHANNA : It’s an angel.
LAUREN : What’s it sing then?
JOHANNA : Sounds like my little brother did. Sings through the walls.
LAUREN : What’s it sing then?
JOHANNA : My name and stuff.
LAUREN : Sing it then.
JOHANNA : If I’m close enough.
LAUREN : Go on then. Sing it.
JOHANNA looks away. Sits on the bed.
LAUREN : Didn’t think so. (Pause.) Lock the fucking door.
LAUREN exits. JOHANNA goes and watches her from the window. Forgets to lock the door.
JOHANNA goes round the bed and starts taking things out of LAUREN’S bag and starts hiding them. She pulls out a comb. She looks in the mirror and begins combing her hair. She picks up the knife and starts playing with it against her hair. As if she might cut it.
The generator goes. Sudden blackness.
JOHANNA : Lauren? (Pause.) Hurry up, Lauren. (Pause.) Please.
The sound of a young boy faintly singing.
JOHANNA : Is that you? (Pause.) Lauren come back. Please come back.
Gentle knocking on the walls builds to a huge bang in the bathroom. A lighter cracks a flame by the window outside – perhaps a glimpse of a face. The bathroom door slams shut. Lights back up.
There is blood over JOHANNA’s hands.
JOHANNA : (Slow build.) It’s not an angel. It’s not an angel. He’s not an angel.
LAUREN bursts through the door.
LAUREN : What was that?
JOHANNA : It’s not an angel.
LAUREN : What happened?
JOHANNA : They put him in the pipes, didn’t they.
LAUREN grabs a towel.
LAUREN : Put this on your hands.
JOHANNA : I tasted him in the water.
LAUREN : Jesus, you’ve done it again.
JOHANNA : Hold me, Lauren. Hold me.
JOHANNA begins to crumple to the floor. LAUREN catches her and cradles her.
JOHANNA : You can’t leave me. I’m falling, Lauren. I’m falling.
LAUREN : I’m here now. I’m right here.
JOHANNA : You can’t leave me. I’m falling through the holes.
LAUREN : I’ll wait a little longer. We’ll stay a little longer. (She looks around the room. Taking it in.) Oh god. We’ll stay here. Help us. Someone help us.
‘Visions of Johanna’ by Bob Dylan begins to play.
LAUREN : (Trying not to cry.) We’ll stay here. (Pause.) We’ll stay here.
LAUREN kisses JOHANNA’s head and gently rocks her in her arms on the floor.
Slow fade to black.
© Simon Jagger