'The Introspection of a Dead Canadian Punk Rocker' – The Play
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
(in order of appearance)
(narrator and lead actor)...Canadian punk rocker (recently deceased), rhythm guitarist, cocaine addict, 39 years of age, rude, foul-mouthed, angry, in love with his best friend
(lead actor)...Canadian punk rocker, lead guitarist, chain smoker, 41 years of age, calm (externally at least), angry at Joe for pulling him back in
The play is set at night in any snow-covered street in a small town of the Northwest Area of Canada.
In the centre of the stage there is a chalk outline of a body outstretched with a gun at the edge of the impression of the right hand. Behind the chalk outline is a dark coloured car with the back door open, blood spatters the interior, the opposite passenger window is cracked and webbed with blood, police tape surrounds the entire scene. There is a projection screen behind the car in which Joe's memories are displayed for the audience to witness; each of these images is tainted red.
(The stage is dark, a single gunshot is heard and then a pause as the background screen turns red. A spotlight illuminates the centre of the stage, beside the chalk outline is a man with dark hair, cut into a Mohawk and spiked stiff, and his dark clothes are worn. A bullet hold is in his right temple, burned black around the edges from the barrel of the gun, blood drops down his face to form a dark pool over the head of the outline.)
(He looks to the outline, then faces the audience and withdraws a cigarette, lights it and takes a deep breath and exhales slowly)
It'd seemed like the perfect way ta make Billy return. I'd been plannin' it fer a while now. It wasn't like ya could just decide one day that ya where gonna throw a benefit concert and have it happen that day. It took work, a lot of work. But it had all been worth it, the moment that Billy had picked up that phone. The slow, easy voice had made me pause, lose track of myself only ta have Billy begin that old shit again. No time fer that, no time fer niceties, I'd never done that anyway! Straight ta the point; Bucky, benefit and Billy.
I didn't wanna admit ta myself but I was nervous, fuck, I wasn't just nervous I was scared. Scared that Billy would walk through the door, all blonde hair, blue eyes and hard angles, perform the show and walk right back out again. Leaving me in the same sorry state that I'd been in the first time Billy left. Fuck it, I'm Joe Dick! And Billiam may not wanna admit it ta himself but he needs me.
(He looks off stage left, and threateningly steps forward)
Hey, get yer fuckin' ass off my amp, dumb fucking drummer!
(Cue filmstrip – Billy arriving at the club with his guitar case and suit-bag)
I'd been talking ta someone whose name I knew that I should know when I'd felt it. Felt that almost electric current run up my spine. I took a deep breath and there, there mingled in between the smoke, the sweat and the stale beer was Billy. I hadn't turned, not right away, didn't wanna appear ta eager, had ta make Billy suffer just a little. After all, it was Billy that had left me, not the other way round. Allowed him ta get comfortable, shake hands with Greg and Tractor. See who else I'd been able ta beg, bed, bribe and blackmail inta playin' the gig fer Bucky.
(He laughs more snarls and grinds his cigarette butt under his boot and lights another)
Gig fer Bucky, fuck it was more like a gig fer Billy. A gig fer reuniting Billy and Joe, maybe I should have called it that? Probably could have gotten a lot more talent ta come and see the Tallent, Billy Tallent that was.
I watched him, stalked him with my eyes, he was talking ta two guys who could never match his talent and fuck, actually seemed happy about it. Time ta take back what's mine, time ta remind Billy just why he was here. I pulled my lips back over dry teeth ta form a snarl, drew hard on my cigarette and allowed the smoke ta push past my lips, classic bad boy pose. Billiam.
(Cue sound from filmstrip)
"Alright, Joe. Ya look good."
"Yeah, ya know me Billiam, always dress ta impress."
(Pause the filmstrip – Billy's face)
(He looks at the screen and then back to the audience)
Liar, liar pants on fire, Billiam. But I fuckin' loved him fer sayin' it. Knew that'd bring that half-smirk ta Billy's face. The light from the overhead fluorescents making his blonde hair glow like a halo, making him look like he was five fuckin' years old despite the stubble covering his cheeks and the cigarette still hangin' from his lips. I've been dressin' like this fer years, had this haircut since I was thirteen and first met Billy, handcuffed ta a chair and under arrest fer joy ridin'. He was skinny as all hell even then, always could count every rib. Hair spiked stiff with sugar-water, ta poor ta afford the proper stuff and yet he was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.
(Cue filmstrip – thirteen year old Billy is cuffed to a chair, to run through scenes of Joe's memories to pause before scene 2)
(He crumples the empty packet of cigarettes and opens another one and the flare of the lighter washes over his face)
I jiggled the lock on the motel room door and smiled as I heard the bolt click back, pulling my long expired credit card from the doorjamb. So trustin' Billy boy, always had been, never did learn.
(He pauses and turns his head to one side)
Fuck, I never paid that bill!
(He smirks at the audience)
One good thing about being dead, eh? No debt collectors in Hell, well not the ones after ya money anyway. I loved those cheap motels; shoddy furniture, discount rates, people fer sale at any price and low-priced locks, a coke addict's wet dream.
(Cue filmstrip – to find Billy asleep on the bed, his chest bare and the covers pulled up only to his waist, he turns in his sleep)
(He stares at the screen and turns back to the audience and the first few sentences are said in a lower voice with his head down)
The red and black of the tattoo on his upper arm, made his pale skin, look paler still, even the hot Californian sun couldn't put a dent in the pale pallor of a good old-fashioned Canadian hometown boy. Don't know how long I stood there watching him, long enough fer the coke monkey ta start swinging from the light fitting. Billy fuckin' Hollywood was bound ta have some spare green ta ease the pain of his bested bud, right?
Didn't need ta turn the light on ta see, the reflection of the streetlamp through the curtains was more than enough, remember what I said about cheap motels? I spied his wallet and sunglasses sittin' on top of the old black and white TV. Probably should have felt some guilt about what I did next, takin' his plane ticket like that, never did though. Took all his cash as well, both the American currency and the few Canadian dollars he had changed over, showed how long he thought he was gonna be here. Thought I'd take his credit cards too, always could copy his name, clever little fucker thought of that though, must have moved 'em.
(He throws the wallet that he had been looking through and removing items from off the stage)
(Cue filmstrip – the wallet hits Billy in the head and jolts him awake, he takes his wallet and looks inside – cue audio)
"Jesus Joe! If ya needed cash ya only need ta ask. Ya didn't need ta steal it!"
(Pause filmstrip – Billy is holding the wallet and looking at the door)
(He shrugs his shoulders and draws on his cigarette)
Suppose ya wanna know why I threw the wallet, eh? Ya gotta admit it was a great shot though, hit him right in the side of his pretty little head. I know what yer thinkin', that I'm pissed that he took the credit cards, hey I would've done it too. Hell, if it'd been Billy, I'd dragged his scrawny ass into rehab years back. But Billy was never as fucked up as me, never had anythin' worth shit ta rebel against. I never had a lot either but fuck in comparison ta Billiam...
(He flicks the ash and nods to the screen behind him with a turn of his head)
Don't want ya ta think bad of Billiam though; about the rehab, wasn't like he didn't try. Suppose I just never really wanted ta give it up.
(His nose begins to bleed and he wipes it away with a pad of his thumb and he pauses)
Always knew Billy was gonna be the one ta leave even when we were kids. First time I heard what he could do with that battered old acoustic, found it out on the street on trash day, knew he was destined fer better things. Knew that he'd only ever be happy with limos and models while I was content with cabs and hookers, so I pushed him away and just kept on pushin'.
(Cue filmstrip – Billy is lying on his stomach in a different bed then the audience had seen him in before, he is unconscious and a few years younger with a bruise on his right cheek)
(He flicks the ash from his cigarette)
Don't have any excuse fer what I did, suppose I could say I was coked up but the truth is, I never really knew the line between right and wrong. Knew I'd pushed it ta far when I'd done it, knew even as I was doing it, knew that this it'd be it. Knew that when he sobered up he'd leave, just never thought that he'd go that fuckin' far and all I'd said was, "Come on Billy boy, ya know ya wanna."
(Pause filmstrip – of Billy on the bed, to run through to pause for scene 3)
(He drops his cigarette butt and lights another one)
Know what yer thinkin' now, I fucked Billy over so why the hell shouldn't he take off? Get away from big, bad, boorish Joe, right? Makes sense, just one problem with that, I spent half my life kickin' Billy in the arse because I always knew he was gonna leave me, so when he did, it was his fault not mine.
(He lifts his cigarette and contemplates it)
Smokin' these more outta habit then anythin', not like I can fuckin' taste 'em. But hey, its two fingers up ta the anti-smokin' campaigners ain't it, these didn't kill me.
(Cue filmstrip – Joe is in a chair backstage and Billy walks past and taps his hand over Joe's heart)
(He flicks the ash from his cigarette)
Always knew how ta put the knife in, did Billy. Not like me, hit ya over the head with a hockey stick in broad daylight with a hundred witnesses No, Billy was subtle, he'd do it slow, gentle, make ya want it even.
See there, the hand over the heart, gentle tap: one, two, three. Turn back at look, brief moment of guilt Billy? Walk away, simple.
(He pauses and then snarls at the audience)
Ladies and gentlemen, big hand fer Billy Tallent, he just showed ya how ta betray a friend and do it with a smile.
(Cue filmstrip – Joe punches Billy in the face and Billy has to be pulled off Joe)
Don't know if he saw it comin', probably did; always could read me like a book. He didn't stop me though, maybe he thought he deserved it, always was good at self-hating was Billy, and I'd never been one ta stop somethin' that was ta my advantage.
(A bloody cut appears on his mouth)
Didn't stop him from gettin' his own back though. Ya need ta watch him, he can fool ya, looks like an angel, well a rugged angel. He fights real dirty, hits low, hard and always on mark, the result of a life spent being Joe Dick's right hand man.
(He takes a swig from the bottle of Bourbon that appeared in his hand, swills it around his mouth and spits it out)
See Billy return the glare, sexy as all hell ain't it, pleased he'd given as good as he'd got. Watched him as he wiped the blood from his lower lip with the pad of his thumb, probably hurt like hell but he'd never admit it. Fer a moment it'd seemed like old times when we'd been thirteen and fightin' off adolescent desire or when we'd been older and in a bar late at night and I'd pissed off the wrong people and Billy, my right hand man would wade in and stop me from gettin' my arse kicked. But that had all been a long time and one coked up night ta many ago.
(Pause filmstrip – Billy is wiping his lips to run forward and pause for scene 4)
Suppose ya wanna know why I decided ta play Russian roulette while still coked up enough ta ferget ta take out five of the bullets.
(He drops five bullets individually on the ground, the sound of each resonating through the floor)
Probably should have thought it through a little more. Never been very good at that, never had impulse control. Didn't mean it, not really, was just supposed ta be a gesture, a way fer Billy ta stay without me havin' ta ask him, remember what I said about being a fuck up? Should have thought more about Billiam though, thought past momentary anger. Thought about no more silent phone calls at five in the mornin', thought about what it'd do ta Billy.
('What it'd do ta Billy,' is said in a quiet voice)
(Cue filmstrip – Billy is crouched down beside Joe's body, blood is soaking through the knees of his jeans)
(A gun appears in his hand and he mimics for the audience the action of pulling the trigger)
The metal of the gun had felt hot, when I knew that it should have felt cold, it was snowin' fer fuck's sake. It'd burned even as I'd pressed the barrel against the side of my head, and then I'd waited. I hadn't wanted Billy ta see, I waited fer him ta turn away, just in case. Didn't want him ta see that moment, didn't want him ta have ta live with it, bad enough that he'd see me after. I waited fer him ta turn and I watched him walk away, and then I pulled back the trigger.
(The audience hears a single gunshot)
And then there was only silence and I was watchin' Billy, on his knees beside my body with my head in his lap and my blood soakin' his dark jeans and everythin' suddenly became clear and I wanted ta take back the last ten minutes, hell the last ten years.
(He pulls a plane ticket from his inside pocket of his overcoat and places it over the marked outline in an envelope marked 'fer Billiam'. He wipes away a tear and pauses before lighting another cigarette and takes a deep breath)
Ah, fuck it, it's a little late fer regrets! I think I might go and haunt Billiam, can't go ta hell without my right hand man, my lead guitarist. Two things that Billiam was fuckin' brilliant at; one was playin' the guitar and the other he'd get arrested fer if he did it in the street. Sides I've never been anywhere where ya didn't freeze yer nuts off in winter!