Cascade

by Roger Marchant

Cascade

Cast

Eight actors: Paul separated from Susie with son Luke, (age say 11); Girlfriend Trish; airline check-in clerk; two cops in plainclothes (Cop l, Cop2); uniformed policewoman (WPC).

Paul early 40S very self-centred but not over intelligent; handling the relationships is a bit beyond him; wants two things- Trish and Luke. Knows they're incompatible, trying to work round it

Susie (Paul's ex) Trish (Paul's current) very similar except Trish is say 28 and Susie say 38. Both strong personalities not scared of making their wishes known. No indication of which one of Paul or Susie was first to start playing away within that marriage. Sympathy would suggest Paul is more selfish, Susie more unlucky. There is a sort of pretence that Paul is Luke's father. He is not, although he has never seriously followed up that possibility. Or more likely, is in some sort of denial about it.

Luke most obvious is his lack of emotion (until the end) and apparent passive acceptance of all that is going on around him. Has ability to void his mind of feeling and stare down an inquisitor. Obviously intelligent. In the event, evil, or at least, psychotic. Or could that just be mega mixed up?

Scenes

Luke's bedroom

Susie Luke's house-front door and hallway into.

Trish's house-kitchen/family room.

Car interior

Ice-cream parlour (or deli with table/chairs or just table and chairs).

as 4.

as 2 then out to waiting car

Airport check-in desk.

Backstory: Paul has moved out of family home. There has been separation/ divorce and Family Court action and Susie has custody of Luke, with Paul having minimal contact rights because he has been living in a bedsit somewhere. At this action he has just moved into Trish's house. Luke has not been told of this development, but guesses.

Scene 1

Luke's bedroom in Susie Luke's house

Luke is discovered alone from behind. He is shirtless and bending over as if in agony, holding a towel (wet) to his stomach. On floor, plugged in but slightly away, is steam iron. Luke leans over painfully, still holding towel to his stomach, and pulls out plug. Lies on back, clutching towel, grunting grimacing in pain.

Scene 2

Next day. Trish's house - family room. Trish enters. Luke is already there watching TV

Trish discovers boning knife on table Boning knife is part of Susie's kitchen set. It's light, smooth-handled with a slim, very slightly concave-edged blade.

Trish picks up knife What in Hell's this, kid?

Luke looking down, reluctant We had to bring something from the kitchen for show and tell...looks up at Trish ...our kitchen, that is.

Trish hefts knife in right hand But ... a knife?

Luke shrugs They thought it was pretty cool.

Trish Your teachers?

Luke Nah. The other kids.

Trish You are seriously weird. then, softly and savagely And don't think you're coming to live here because, get this, you're not. Over my dead body, you waste of space. Your mother doesn't want you and nor do I. Geddit?

Trish And put this bloody thing away. Now! thrusts knife towards Luke who stares back, emotionless

Luke shrugs, smiles slightly, takes knife by proffered blade and drops it in his school bag. Closes bag.

Paul enters We gotta be off, Luke, better go to the toilet.

Luke Da-ad!

Paul Go, sweetheart - I got to get you back on time or your mother will rat ass me to the Family Court again. And we're supposed to be there before dark.

Luke just shrugs OK exits family room and we hear him stomping upstairs

Trish You'll never believe this. C'mere goes to school bag, tears it open for Paul to see in Look!

Paul Jesus! What's that?

Trish 'Show and tell', he said.

Paul, relaxing Yeah. Well schools ain't what they used to be, babe...retrieves knife and makes an overhand mock thrust at Trish ...AAGH!

Trish Put it back, for Christ's sake! Youll just bloody encourage him. You're as bad as he is!

Paul shrugs just like Luke; drops knife back into school bag.

Closes bag. Y'know I'm gonna have to talk to him about us. Serious.

Trish emphatic He's not living here. No way! Paul OK, OK! We've been all over that

Paul wont meet her eye

Trish Just so's you know. pause I mean it, Paul, what I said. I picked him up yesterday but that's the last time. I got better things to do. And no way am I going to run into that bitch. pause Anyway, I reckon I've pushed my luck far enough for you, so no more. You do the fetching-your job can't be that important. long pause And when I think of all that maintenance. It's wrong, Paul, and the Family Court needs to be told. desperate, sympathetic She's been playing you, lover, surely you can see?

Paul irritable Yeah, yeah, babe, I get the message.

Trish And, Paul, don't forget I agreed to this holiday because, like we just said, it's the last time. Then it's me and you. That's two, lover, not three. She should have him, not us. She won't, though. You don't get a fancy apartment with Opera House views if you're towing a kid along. He reckons he loves his grandmother? So let him go live with her. Yeah, over in Perth.-.he'll soon forget about you. moves to Paul, stands against him, voice softens, pleading Oh, Paul, we've discussed it so much. You know it wouldn't work takes his hand and places it on her stomach, you've got more important things to think about now. We'll be three again soon enough. You told me about him nods towards upstairs but this one is ours, darling-or you want me do the test for you?

Paul (guilty) Nah. And his name's Luke

Trish Whatever ... and we both know what he is, don't we? I keep telling you, he's not your kid so it's not your problem.

Noise off - WC being flushed

Paul glares at Trish Quiet!

Luke re-enters. Paul kisses Trish leaves with Luke. Trish looks at closed door then watches thru window as they get in car;' tapping her fingernail on the windowsill and biting her lip slightly. Paul toots horn on departure, Trish half heartedly waves them off

Scene 3

Driving. Car interior. Luke in front pax seat with school bag between his legs.

Paul You could put that in the back

Luke Nah. It's all right here

Cut to Paul's face. He's concentrating on driving OK but there's something else going on

Paul Enjoy yourself?

Luke How d'you mean?

Paul At Trish's

Luke I guess

Paul Wanna ice cream? Luke Do we got time?

Luke slightly puzzled Sure

Paul We'll make it. takes slip road off highway

Luke This isn't the way home pause We got to get home.

Paul amused You in a hurry, Luke?

Luke defensive No, but we never been on this road before.

Paul I know. You want that ice? That's where we're going. It's just couple of klicks. There's something I need to talk to you about.

Luke School?

Paul laughs No, not school

Luke Is it about Mum?

Paul turns to stare at Luke What?

Luke Youve been shouting a lot on the cell. You always did

Paul thins lips, looks ahead, silent

Luke softly I love you, Dad. Just you.

Paul Oh, Luke, I love you too. We both do.

Luke Mum doesn't.

Paul Just because we shout bit? Shes out of the picture for us

Luke head down, muffled She still shouts lot. At me. In my face.

Paul finds parking spot, pulls in, stops, turns to Luke

Whaddya mean, Luke? I haven't heard her shout at you. Not much, anyway.

Luke When you're not there, Dad. pause And now you've moved out... ..

Paul cuts him off ... Yeah, well that might change. Look, Luke, I gotta tell you ...

Luke sensing the moment might be escaping him pulls up his tee shirt revealing outline of steam iron across his stomach (but only pale-he didn't do much damage to himself)

Not only shouting, either, Dad. She hurts me, too. She did this just before Trish picked me up. Then she went out

Paul genuinely shocked Jesus Christ, son, why didn't you ever tell me?

Luke She said she'd kill me if I told anyone. She meant it, Dad.

Paul Shit, shit, SHIT! bangs forehead on steering wheel

Luke Da-ad!

Paul Yeah, Luke, sorry. You OK?

Luke I'm all right, it's not that bad. pause Dad, you know Mum's always out? She just leaves me there alone?

Paul Out?

Luke Ring her, Dad. Go on, I'll bet she's not there.

Paul dials number on mobile-whilst driving-listens then flips the phone closed in disgust

Luke Told you.

Paul And the bitch knows were on our way. decisive That's it then, Luke - this is what we're going to do. You're not going back there. Ever. We're going to Trish's-you like her, don't you?

Luke You gonna live at Trish's always, Dad?

Paul not prepared to answer this yet Don't worry about clothes, we'll go down the mall. Get you some new things before we board that big jet tomorrow night. Just you and me, buddy - you'll love it.

Luke immediately diverted, he is only eleven

Can I have those torn jeans, they're cool, and that tee shirt-you know, the one with the logo that mum wouldn't buy? Adam's got one but his mum won't let him wear it to school. Will you get me those?

Paul Anything, son, and you can wear them anywhere. And a pair of real basketball boots

Luke Those red ones?

Paul Like I said, anything.

Luke Dad? then slowly Is this, like, a new life?

Paul What you reckon, Luke? And we'll be coming back to live with Trish.

Luke You like Trish, don't you?

Luke You asked me that already. slowly .Me living there? You sure?

Paul fingers tapping furiously on wheel Course! It's all fixed. Don't worry, I'll make it work.

Luke less than reassured at this obvious oxymoron, grimaces as if replacing one bad image with another

Dad, the other night you and Mum were yelling.

Paul confused Uh?

Luke patiently Friday, Dad, the day before she picked me up.

Paul exasperated and alarmed Her name's Trish, Luke. You weren't listening on the extension phone again, were you?

Luke It was an accident, honest. Anyway I heard what you both said.

(dissolve and flashback - cut to Susie Paul on phone, obviously at end of argument)

Susie ... Fuck you, then. Me, I'm outta here. Karl wants me to live with him. He's got a penthouse on the harbour? He loves me, and let me tell you, this is a real man I'm talking about, not a creep loser like you. So you can stay with your fuckin' whore! You just about live there, anyway. See if I care!

Paul angry Oh, yeah, and what would the Family Court think of that, eh?

Susie Tell you what, darling, I don't need your pathetic money now so I'm handing custody over to you. Far as I'm concerned you can keep that bloody pest you call our son - just don't expect him to grow up looking like you. Why you bother with him beats the hell out of me. Taking him abroad, for Christ's sake! Where is it you're going? Bali, isn't it? You should bloody well dump him-he might find a career. They start them young there, don't they? slams down phone

End of flashback

cut back to Luke in car

Luke Dad, what did she mean, 'looking like you'?

Paul Bitch!.. short pause.. Nothing for you to worry about, son. Luke offhand OK. She was drunk, anyway. Went straight to bed.

Paul Jesus! Forget it, son, let's go get that ice cream

Luke Yah!

Scene 4

Ice-creamery/deli. At table. Luke devouring large sundae and listening; Paul coffee. Paul is on cell phone

Paul So that's it, sweetheart. It all kicked off a couple of nights ago pause listening Yeah, Friday. The phone call-remember?pause listening Yeah, I know what I said and I thought I could fix it. But now everything's changed-she's been having a go at Luke. Only fucking burned him with the iron yesterday. pause listening Yeah, before you picked him up. She'd buggered off by the time you got there. pause listening Because the poor little sod's tough, that's why pause listening Look, you know I always phone first. No way would she have seen you-I don't take those sorts of chances. Relax! talking over her Listen, Trish! All my things are at your place now so we're coming straight back to you. No way she's laying hands on him again pause listening, then softer Yeah, yeah, like I said, just till things get sorted. You and me babe, remember? pause listening I'm taking him away tomorrow, aren't I? pause, then, exasperated WHEN WE GET BACK! Then it'll all be different-just a few days to fix it, OK? Like we said. Love yah. rings off

Luke emotionless Can we go home anyway? To get some of my things?

Paul I told you, Luke, we'll buy them new. I dont really want to go to that bitchs house at all

Luke whiney Please Dad. Not clothes, other things. My things. Just a few.

Paul OK. But there's no way I'm going in there. Five minutes, eh?

Luke Sure, Dad, there's no need for you to go in. There's no one there-you just called, remember?

Paul nodding C'mon, let's go they leave the ice-creamery, drive off

Scene 5

Interior, hallway, Susie Luke's house. Paul is in car, parked on road outside Luke, schoolbag around his shoulder, enters through front door, closes it and walks along passage. Stops outside a closed bedroom door. Listens carefully, then with neither haste nor hesitation, opens door and enters room out of shot

Cut to Paul nervous in car, tapping fingertips on steering wheel

Cut back to interior. Bedroom door opens and Luke, fastening flap of his schoolbag, exits. He turns and makes for the front door. He stops suddenly, thinking, then enters another bedroom and exits to corridor stuffing half a dozen books into a back pack

Cut to Luke leaving house with school bag and backpack. Walks towards Paul's car. Paul flicks trunk open without getting out. Luke slings backpack in, closes trunk, gets in front pax seat. Paul drives on

Paul You could've put your school bag in the trunk too, you know.

Luke Back seat will do, Dad chucks school bag on to back seat

Paul You were in there a long time.

Luke offhand Told you, Dad. Had to look for some stuff.

Paul Everything OK?

Luke smiling at Paul Oh yes, Dad, everything's fine now.

Paul And tomorrow - Bali!

Luke Yep looks, expressionless, out of side widow at passing scenery

Scene 6

Next day. Airport check-in. Cop 1 Cop 2 in frame to side of desk

Paul Luke approach desk with suitcases. Paul flourishes tickets and passports at clerk. Clerk checks computer and nods slightly. Cop 1 Cop 2 close on Paul and grab his arms

Cop 1 Paul Edwin Monaghan, I am arresting you on for the murder on the fifth of April your wife Susan Monaghan proceeds to intone usual caution

Paul aghast What!

Luke screaming at police You can't take my Dad! It was ... WPC takes him and tries to lead him away ... Dad, Dad, it was Trish. She did it, I know she did. She stabbed Mum . .It was Trish .. Dad? .. DAD!! he is pulled away, kicking, fighting, sobbing with rage

Cop 2 to Paul Poor kid. Hysterical and who can blame him. Loves you, tho...

Cop 1 hardbitten ... Yeah. Pity your prints were all over the knife handle. Come on, lets go.

Paul Fifth of April? Three days ago? pause as he processes information Stabbed? wrenches away from police and screams at Luke 'Stabbed? Luke, what you mean, 'stabbed? pause then turns wildly to police... My fingerprints? screams falls to knees as realisation strikes home Oh, good Christ! No! No!!

Luke turns and buries head in policewoman's coat. He has written his father out of his life. It is Luke against the world now.

Roger Marchant 2015

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