22 November 2014

Short Play: Algeciras. (Reality versus fiction)



“I don't know about what happened... because once you start writing, it ALL becomes fiction.” - Todd Solondz, Storytelling

The short play Algeciras is probably around 90% fiction. The reason I’m mentioning that is because when a friend of mine read it he said I was simply writing about myself and when I asked how he had reached that conclusion he replied that the male character in it didn’t own a television, which at the time I didn’t. Apart from that one scene setter this play is entirely fictional except that the idea did come from an incident in a pub one night with a drunken woman who was being pretty aggressive towards me for absolutely no reason (or so it seemed at the time) other than she was drunk and I ‘used’ her again in the short story Detours.

I don’t know why I found her interesting enough, a woman I didn’t know, to place her in a play and short story. If I’d been drunk myself that night I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about her behaviour. But this play is an imagining of what might have happened – the next morning scenario, although it’s an exaggerated piece for dramatic purposes and it’s supposed to be one of those five minute reads so I tried to cram a lot into 11 pages, perhaps too much.

The only other piece of reality I stole (or paraphrased) from someone was the line, “I love my house, I mean I really love that house. I’ve lived there for ten years now. It’s a solid building, it’s been standing for over hundred years and it’s going to be standing long after you and I are gone. People have lived there before me and people are going to live there after me. Families are going to be living there and filling that house with life a hundred years after we’ve turned to dust and are no longer even a memory, and that makes me feel happy not sad.”

And that line is really what this play is all about.

I do find the idea of reality versus fiction as well as memory versus fact and the reader's perception of which is which intriguing, and I explored that theme in the longer play The Elephant Frowned, which is included in the book of short stories.

And to steal again in order to wrap this up and stop any further rambling I’ll use the quote from the excellent Todd Solondz film Storytelling, which satirically and scathingly explores the fiction versus non-fiction theme – “I don't know about what happened... because once you start writing, it ALL becomes fiction.”



Algeciras

Man
Are you always that aggressive?

Woman
You seemed to be into at the time, you didn’t say anything.

Man
I’m not talking about that. I meant when we met last night. The way you talked to me, you were pretty aggressive.

Woman
Was I?

Man
I heard you speaking to your friend, the drunk one who fell over. Before you had even spoken to me you looked over and I heard you say to your friend that I was a prick.

Woman
We were all drunk. Come on don’t get sensitive.

Man
I’m not, it doesn’t bother me. I just can’t remember anyone being that aggressive.

Woman
Well it worked, so you couldn’t have been that bothered at the time.

Man
I wasn’t, but you know, calling someone a prick seems a strange way to pick someone up.

Woman
I’m not like that usually, that’s not me, well not usually. I don’t know why I was being like that. Too much drink and I was nervous I guess, insecurities.

Man
What do you have to be insecure about?

Woman
The same as everyone else. I don’t know. The clock was ticking towards closing time and I didn’t want to end up alone last night.

Man
You have problems picking up guys? With your attitude? Shocker.

Woman
I don’t have problems picking up guys. I have problems picking up guys that I would want to wake up with the next day.

Man
Failed yet again.

Woman
If I didn’t want to be here you wouldn’t have even heard me leaving. I’ve been awake for an hour.

Man
Doing what?

Woman
Just lying here, thinking. I did get up and check out your place though.

Man
(NO RESPONSE)

Woman
You just moved in?

Man
Two years ago. Rental. I don’t see the point in really doing anything with it. I didn’t actually think I’d be here this long.

Woman
Even though you don’t own it you can still do something with it. Hanging some art on the wall would be a start.

Man
How’s your hangover? Do you have one?

Woman
No not really. You?

Man
Slightly, not too bad. I find that silence usually helps.

Woman
(whispers to herself)
That must be why you don’t have a TV then.

Man
What time is it?

Woman
About eleven I think. We could go out, get something to eat maybe.

Man
(No Response)

Woman
Just a suggestion.

Man
I don’t really eat much in the morning, especially not after a night out.

Woman
Look if you want me to leave just say so.

Man
You wouldn’t be offended?

Woman
I probably would be slightly offended and I’d probably spend a few hours wondering why you wanted me to leave and I’d probably come to the conclusion that you just wanted a one night thing. Then I’d think some more about it and I’d probably think that you were pretty rude and was it really such a hardship to speak to me for a while after we’d exchanged bodily fluids but then I’d come to the conclusion that you were probably just an asshole and there are plenty of them about so I would simply end up forgetting about it because life’s too short.

Man
You could always just skip to the life’s too short part.

Woman
It’s cool, I’ll just go. I’ve done the one night stand thing and been in your place, don’t think I haven’t. I thought we could spend a little time together that’s all, my mistake.

Man
How many?

Woman
What?

Man
One night stands?

Woman
I’m not a guy, I don’t count but I could always run home and check the notches on my headboard for you. Does it fucking matter? Are we having a double standards moment?

Man
Stupid question, forget it.

Woman
Forgotten.

 Man
You don’t have to go, really.

Woman
Don’t do me any favours.

Man
Standing there pulling on your jeans is kind of changing my mind.

Woman
Wow, thanks, can I really stay? Maybe for another seven minutes or six at a push. Your home is so warm and comforting I really don’t want to leave.

Man
Just get back into bed. Your body heat saves me switching on the heating.

Woman
So is this something you do a lot? One night stands then kick them out the door.

Man
I didn’t kick you out the door, you decided to leave.

Woman
You’re not exactly begging me to stay.

Man
I just, I find it easier, I..

Woman
Spit it out.

Man
I usually go to their place, it’s easier to leave. I don’t usually bring anyone back here.

Woman
So you do do this a lot?

Man
Not really. It’s not like I’m in my twenties anymore.

Woman
Why is leaving immediately such an issue? I mean that is something you would do in your twenties after a one nighter. At our age you might consider the possibility that last night might lead onto to something more maybe.

Man
I don’t consider it.

Woman
Never? You have a girlfriend? I’m pretty sure you didn’t say anything about it last night. Wouldn’t be the first time though.

Man
No, no girlfriend.

Woman
You just don’t want anything more?

Man
Right. I’m on my own and I like it that way.

Woman
That’s no way to live. I mean is that even living? You’re happy with that?

Man
I’m not unhappy. You get used to it. It’s easier.

Woman
Relationships can be hard work, yeah, but, you don’t ever plan again to have a relationship, I mean a permanent one?

Man
I have no plans. Why does everyone have to have plans? I like my life the way it is.

Woman
That’s kinda’ seems a lonely way to go through life.

Man
I have plenty of people in my life, more than enough actually.

Woman
But this, right now, you don’t like this? Having someone when you wake up? Having someone you contact during the day, who will be there for you? You know, love.

Man
I just don’t do relationships, not anymore. I’ve learnt. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

Woman
And there’s a hundred and one other clichés out there that will help you through the day.

Man
You asked. I’m trying to explain, even though I don’t have to. You’re under the impression that everyone needs someone else, some significant other in their life. That’s not always true.

Woman
I think someone got to you in the past.

Man
Now that is a cliché.

Woman
Okay. Okay. It’s just conversation.

Man
Being alone is scary for many people, I understand that. I just don’t see it that way.

Woman
Well even a dog can get used to sleeping in the rain if it does it long enough.

Man
Thank you Buddha.

Woman
Look all I was talking about was getting to know one other, hooking up from time to time even. The sex was good, why not? No strings. We’re older, we’re adults, it’s quite easy. Plenty of people do it.

Man
But then it becomes a regular thing, it always does because sooner or later someone always wants more.

Woman
I’m suggesting no strings attached sex and you’re saying no. This is a first I swear. You don’t believe me that it couldn’t be just that?

Man
No. I don’t.

Woman
Why?

Man
You know, these conversations are what I don’t like. Having to explain myself.

Woman
Excuse me. Why didn’t you just go home and jerk off last night? You could have saved yourself all this grief.

Man
Jesus.

Woman
You know we are in a relationship right now, we’re having a relationship. No matter how short - this, you and me, right now, it’s a relationship.

Man
And it’s temporary.

Woman
Okay look I get it, no problem. In all honesty though, from my point of view, I think you probably do want a relationship, just not with me, and that’s fine, either that or you’re scared.

Man
You’re right, I’m terrified.

Woman
Deny all you want but this sort of thing is not uncommon once you hit a certain age and things have not panned out the way you planned.

Man
I told you I’ve never had any plans.

Woman
You’ve had long term relationships, I know that because you said you didn’t do relationships but you followed that with not anymore and it sounds to me as if they haven’t worked out and you’ve given up trying, and that’s fear not this excuse of having your life just the way you want it that you’re claiming.

Man
Remind me to cancel that therapy session I had booked, thanks.

Woman
Joke all you want, which is another well-worn deflection device people use but I know what I’m talking about.

Man
Okay, as you have completely worn out my patience here’s a story for you.

Woman
I’ve got a feeling this one isn’t going to have a happy ending.

Man
I used to visit a place in Spain called Algeciras. The first time I visited I went for a weekend, then I went for three months and then I went every year after that first visit, sometimes twice a year, more if I could. I equated Algeciras with happiness but the thing was I couldn’t stand it when the time came to return home. Returning home got to be so bad that I decided to stop going there altogether. Feeling that down after being happy for a week, even a weekend, it just wasn’t worth it. I’ve not been back there for almost…I think it’s probably two years now.

Woman
That’s not really a story but I get the feeling that is a well-rehearsed speech.

Man
Only in my head.

Woman
But that is exactly what I’m saying about not trying. And honestly it’s kind of lame.

Man
Again, thanks.

Woman
No, but what? You’re giving me this as an example of why you don’t do relationships? Because you feel shit when they end? If that’s the case where’s the risk, where’s the fun? Not every relationship has to be long term.

Man
I’m just having a break, taking some time off, there’s nothing wrong with that. Jumping from one relationship to the next, it gets tiring. Someone said once that people spend more time choosing their car than their partner and I believe that.

Woman
I’m not disagreeing with you on that one but… let’s see, here’s a story for you.

Man
Go ahead, I’ve got plenty of time.

Woman
Time, exactly. My house, I love my house, I mean I really love that house. I’ve lived there for ten years now. It’s a solid building, it’s been standing for over hundred years and it’s going to be standing long after you and I are gone. People have lived there before me and people are going to live there after me. Families are going to be living there and filling that house with life a hundred years after we’ve turned to dust and are no longer even a memory, and that makes me feel happy not sad.

Man
That’s not really a story.

Woman
Then you’re not really listening. I think I’ll leave now.

Man
Stay for a while.

Woman
                                Why?        
                              
                                 Man
We can waste some time together.

Woman
Until one of us gets fed up with the other.

Man
That’s usually the way it works.


All of Us With Our Pointless Worries and Inconsequential Dramas is available as an e-book and paperback on Amazon. Interview with Julian Gallo on Expats Post.