INT. PARADISE LOST – MIDNIGHT
Quiet murmurs filled the empty space; it was all it took for her chest to feel like her heart was falling out of it. Muscles tense, goose bumps rising on the brink of her skin. She rubbed her hands together with no effect. CHRIS (39) approaches from behind, cigarette in hand.
(Takes a drag)
Are you ready?
SHAY (19) releases her clasp, wipes the sweat from her forehead with the back of her palm.
Is anyone ever ready for something like this?
it takes a while, you’ll get used to it.
Shay nods, approaches the dilapidated armoire that sits in the nearby corner. She sits, nervously, begins to apply eye shadow. Chris reaches for her walkie talkie. It crackles alive.
(Into walkie talkie)
can you test the lights one more time?
Shade five is doing that flickering thing again.
(Tucks walkie in back pocket, turns to Shay)
(Struts towards the armoire)
God, I’m getting old.
(Sits neatly on its chiseled edge)
what brings a
little thing like you to ‘Paradise Lost’?
I needed the money.
There are other places.
– I like it here.
You like it now.
(Puts out cigarette)
You won’t like it after tonight.
Shay nods nonchalantly; reaches for her own pair of pantyhose. She puts them on, fingers trembling in the process.
Hey, if you can’t handle it, grab your shit, and get out now.
Chris peers into the mirror, applies the last of her foundation over a healing black eye. Shay appears behind her as she does so.
Is that what you call handling it?
I do what I can,
(closes her foundation compact, turns to face her)
all that I can anyway.
Chris surveys the reopened cut on her bottom lip.
I tried to break up a fight between two blokes
…bastards couldn’t keep their hands off me, much less each other.
(searches Chris’ face),
looks like they got a few good licks in.
(winces, chuckles slightly)
wait til’ you see mine.
(moseys towards her stage position)
not like the others, but I’ve seen you ‘round here almost every night since I started. Why?
– I could ask you the same thing?
Self – proclaimed vagabond.
Didn’t get that iPhone you wanted for Christmas eh?
they learned their lesson yet or are you planning to punish them a lil’ longer?
I’ve been on my own since I was sixteen. Whatever is left of my parents is somewhere in Brighton.
I started out like you once,
that was my spot, right there.
(Fiddles with the curtain strings)
then after a while, I became numb, to it, to everyone. But I couldn’t leave; I loved it too much, so I compromised. I would stay in ‘Paradise’, just on the banks, wander along, and cling desperately to something else while I waited for someone else to find me.
Shay adjusts her position. Chris watches her for a moment.
If it helps, pretend you’re dreaming.
No one dreams this.
Those aren’t dreams.
Call it what you want. I don’t dream of anything else.
(Pulls out a small capsule, opens the cap, tosses her head back, and swallows deep)
God knows I’ve tried.
Shay holds her head straight; the curtains are her only point of view. She takes a deep breath, hangs her head in defeat. The lights dim backstage.
(Turns to Shay)
Knock ’em dead Kid.
Chris takes her place behind the curtains. The stage brightens and the curtains part. Whistling and howling erupt from the growing murmurs. Shay enters stage left. She squints, momentarily blinded by the sudden light. The static of a speaker sounds.
Shay stands, legs apart, firmly planted to the floorboards beneath her. She glances at the wings. Chris offers a reassuring smile. A trumpet sounds.
We peer out into the darkness, from between Shay’s parted legs, at the bright lights shining down on her.
TRANSITION: WHITE FLASH
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