By LAURA SOLOMON
KATHLEEN: Corporate high
flyer, dressed accordingly
WOMAN (direct address):
By anybodyís standards it was an expensive duvet. It was
the best, a leader, a king amongst quilts. It was different
from the rest. It was the fluffiest, the warmest, the
finest. Fifty percent down and fifty percent large feather,
it was not dressed up to the nines, like many of the others,
the show-offs, in their gaudy coloured prints and their
florals and their tartan covers. It was plain, naked, but
it shone with potential. Once inside the cover he had
designed, it would knock the competition into a cocked hat.
It was a diamond in the rough.
Lights up on MAN and WOMAN walking together hand in hand.
Sign up on far wall ĎBennyís For Bedsí. MAN and WOMAN walk
past duvet after duvet, fluffing and plumping, shaking their
heads in dismay as candidate after candidate fails to
measure up. Finally, they find one duvet on its own, apart
from the others.
WOMAN (picks up duvet
that is by itself): Here it is. The one. All by
itself. Aw, poor little thing.
WOMAN snuggles her face
into the duvet. MAN looks at duvetís price tag.
MAN: Jesus Christ! Thatís
WOMAN: Come on, darling.
Donít be stingy.
MAN: Thatís three days
wages, gone in an instant, on a duvet.
WOMAN: Not just any old
duvet. The duvet.
MAN and WOMAN walk with
duvet to counter. Check out duvet. Lights out.
Lights up on MAN and WOMAN in bed together, under duvet.
The duvet starts to glow. WOMAN props herself up on one
elbow and looks around for the source of the light. Is it
the moon, or a street lamp? MAN wakes up and puts one arm
WOMAN: Whereís that light
MAN (patting duvet): Itís
this thing. Itís glowing.
WOMAN: Weird. Maybe
somebodyís put some of those awful glow sticks in there.
Like people take to dance parties. Or maybe somebodyís
implanted something electronic and cellular in there, that
can be switched on from a distance.
MAN: Hey, maybe itís
genetically engineered. Like those fish with the
phosphorescent jellyfish genes.
WOMAN (awed): Spooky.
picks up one corner of the thing that covered them and
fluffs it about, as if the incandescence could be shaken
MAN: I know. Maybe if we
switch on the overhead light we can stun it into submission.
WOMAN: Yea, give it a
MAN walks over to light
switch. Tries switch. Duvet dims a bit. Tries switch
again. Duvet dims more. Tries switch for third time.
Light dies in duvet completely.
MAN: Ha! That sure
showed the damn thing whoís boss!
Lights out. Lights up. Man is holding a feather.
MAN: Another bloody
WOMAN: Whatís wrong?
MAN: The duvetís been
moulting. Itís got a plumage retention issue. The feathers
donít even confine themselves to the boudoir, they migrate.
Iíve found feathers displayed amongst a bouquet of blooms in
the living room, neatly curled around a lemon in the fruit
bowl, spiked into a pound of butter which had been stored in
the door of the fridge. How come theyíre never just on the
floor? Why do they always have to show off?
WOMAN: Theyíre not doing
it on purpose. Itís just coincidence that they come to rest
in such strange places.
MAN: Itís like theyíre
trying to spite us. I wish Iíd never screen-printed that
cover for it. All that work, you can tell that it doesnít
WOMAN: O donít be so
ridiculous. Itís as warm as toast.
MAN: How many duvets get
covers made for them by a top-notch, talk of the town up and
coming artist. ĎA painter of rare talent!í Thatís what the
Nelson Evening Mail called me. Pause. I think we should
take it back to the store.
WOMAN: We canít do that,
itís happy here.
MAN: Happy? How the hell
can a duvet be happy? You think the little fucker has
WOMAN: You know what I
mean. Itís full and fluffy.
MAN: And that in itself
is unnatural. How can it lose so many feathers and still be
WOMAN: Itís special.
Itís not like the others.
MAN: No good can come of
MAN turns his back on
WOMAN, picks up paintbrush and begins working on his
WOMAN (direct address):
The cupboards that lined the walls of his studio were filled
with his creations. In the early days, heíd painted only
me, from the side, from the front, from the rear. Nudes,
mostly. When weíd lived in different cities Iíd flown up to
see him one weekend and flown back with one of his versions
of myself tucked under my arm. The stewardess had made me
put the painting in the overhead locker and something had
fallen on it, crushing my right buttock, so that it looked
like Iíd had a bad dose of liposuction. Iíd been his
subject for six months and then I had grown tired of posing
for him; told him that he needed new material. As if out of
spite, he had started painting other women instead. Bank
tellers, mutual friends, a thirteen year old girl heíd paid
five bucks to take off her clothes so he could render her
immortal. He thought he was doing her a favour. But I was
what he kept returning to. I was the default. Although I
had stopped posing for him, he had not stopped attempting to
render me in paint. He didnít show his work to anyone, not
even me. I was forbidden from his study. Occasionally I
would rescue a painting from the garbage and get a glimpse
of his interior world. Once, after a fight, heíd painted me
as a six headed monster, holding him up in a massive claw,
mouth open, ready to devour. In another he had shown me
giving a faceless man a blow job in a seedy bar. He signed
and dated nothing. These pictures could have been made by
anybody. Or nobody at all.
Lights out. Lights up on MAN and WOMAN lying together under
duvet. WOMAN is lying on her side with her back to MAN.
MAN props himself up and examines WOMANís back.