Waiting For Godot by Calezane
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Waiting for Gatchaman

  (with apologies to Samuel Beckett)

ACT I


[At the side of a road, in a bare, desolate landscape under a lead-grey sky are two men, one standing and gazing into the distance, the other sitting with his legs drawn up and his arms wrapped around his knees. The standing one wears a blue T-shirt with a "2" on it that is dirty and frayed; his eyes are sunken and ringed with black, and his hair needs washing. The sitting one, who occasionally eyes the other one apprehensively, has a narrow, pinched face with excessively large eyes  and a long, thick, ragged-looking braid hanging down his back. He is very thin, and his hands look large and skeletal. His khaki prison uniform is quite clean. A few paces away from them is a large, but mangy-looking bush, and the road that passes before their feet - more a wide, hardened dirt track than a road - goes round in a wide curve behind them to a grim, grey prison building in the background, about five hundred yards away from them.

   The sitting one furtively eyes the standing one again, and says in a voice that is half cowed, half whiny:]


BK: Why do we have to sit outside?
JA: We're waiting for Gatchaman.
BK: He's not going to come today.
JA: He will come. He always does.
BK [in a very small voice, his face almost hidden behind his arms]: And what if he doesn't?
[Instead of replying, JA turns very slowly and impressively to gaze on BK, who shrinks into a tiny ball and lifts one arm over his head as though to ward off a blow. Despite his tired and craggy appearance, he is actually quite young. He moves somewhat mechanically. Satisfied that BK seems to have got the message, he turns away.]
BK: .......so?
JA: You talk too much.
[There is a long silence.]
BK [timidly]: There's nothing else to do around here. JA: You could ponder on your sins.
BK [beginning to sneer]: Now that's a big word, coming from y-- [Seeing he is about to be struck, he quickly shrinks into a ball again and changes his tone to one of submission] Did. Every one of the six million five thousand four hundred and ninety-seven. Twice. And the big ones three times over. JA [threateningly; although he never appears anything but threatening]: And the very big ones?
BK [talking rapidly, his eyes wide with fear]: Four times over. And I spent a full night agonizing about the truly awful ones. JA: Scum.
[He walks away, scuffing at the dirt with his shoes. BK follows him with his eyes. After a while, he is obliged to turn and paces in the opposite direction, his chin on his chest. When he is at the other end of the stage, he is forced to turn again and walks back to the centre of the stage, where he takes up a position about five feet away from BK and resumes his gazing into the distance, hands in pockets. Glancing up at him, BK looks surprised.]
BK: What happened to your wrist communicator? [JA levels a scorching gaze at him. He starts to scramble madly backwards, his progress slowed by the fact that he has thrown up his arm to protect himself again, which leaves only one arm for support.] I was only asking! I didn't mean anything! I only noticed, that's all!
JA [in a deep, quiet voice]: It broke.
BK: Can't you fix it?
JA: No.
BK [hopefully]: Maybe I could try?
JA: No. I don't want you tinkering with my belongings. BK: Oh. [He looks disappointed, then shrugs and resumes his foetal position. He scans the sky for any signs of life until it bores him, sighs, looks at JA who is staring fixedly ahead, shrugs again and starts to undo his braid until about halfway up. He then splits one of the three strands into three smaller strands, braids them for a length of three inches, splits each of the smaller strands into three again and braids them for another three inches, and so on until he's worked his way down every branch. When the first strand is subdivided as far as it will go, he starts on the second one. JA glances at him to see what he's doing, then turns away in furious disgust. He doesn't notice, absorbed as he is in his task. When he's done, it looks as though coral growths are hanging from his head.] JA [still disgusted]: Had fun?
BK: Okay, *you* think of something better to do. JA: I could split your skull like I did last time. BK [shrinking again]: You eat too much red meat. [JA snorts as though at a private joke, and not a very good one. His attention slides away away from BK to somewhere within himself, his gaze becoming abstracted.]
JA: Eat... When was the last time I could eat... [A long silence as JA is lost within himself, BK watching him for signs that he might attack. Finally, he throws up his arms in a burst of emotion, causing BK to start.] JA: When is he finally going to come? Gatchaman!! [BK is too frightened to say anything. The silence could have become quite awkward, if not for an anonymous person appearing on the road curving behind them, walking towards them. BK catches sight of him before JA does and frantically begins to undo all the branching braids. Surprised at the sudden activity, JA glances behind him and notices the man on the road, too. By the time he has gone round the curve and appears in front of them, BK's hair has been braided properly again and he is kneeling, with the well-prepared, expectant air of someone about to receive a visitor.]
JA [with a certain disdain, noting the khaki uniform]: Who are you? Some bastard that couldn't get away? [The man, who is thirtyish and rather portly, cheerfully salutes.]
V: Vladimir, U.N. veteran and guard of the second floor block C, at your service. Which one of you is Joe Asakura? BK: What do you think? Which one of us is wearing the tacky T- shirt?
JA [almost shocked, too much so to react to BK]: My apologies. I thought you were one of the prisoners. [Vladimir looks surprised, contemplates his sleeve, smiles again.]
V: It's these uniforms. They're all alike. JA [taking control of the situation]: I'm Joe. What do you want?
V: I understand you've got a prisoner under your care who's a bit of a technical wizkid?
JA: [snorts] That would be him. [He points with his thumb at BK, who has perked up considerably.]
BK: What seems to be the problem?
V: [kneeling at his side; they half turn to face each other, excluding JA from their conversation.] The ventilation system's gone down again. Killed everyone in the underground isolation unit. We're still having to sort the corpses into guards and prisoners. They've opened all the windows on the higher levels, but they're worried the prisoners might try to climb out and escape. We've already had some serious casualties from the fourth floor.
BK [smiling and nodding, as if they both know what they're talking about]: You don't want to climb *these* walls. [He goes thoughtful.] Have you considered checking the wiring on the north wall? I seem to remember that was put in before the war ever started.
V: We've had it replaced.
BK: Have you tried cleaning the fans? Taking off the grates to check for obstructions? Checking for power surges at the generator? [His face goes sly.] Pressing the "on" switch? V: [laughs heartily] We didn't forget the "on" switch this time. No, we haven't looked at the fans. They're built into the wall, anyway. What could happen to them? BK: Those ventilation ducts are full of rats. When the blades start to spin, they're sucked in. I used to have that problem all the time. Open those grates, and you'll probably find the tunnel choked with bits of diced rat.
V: That would account for the stench. [He rises.] Well, thank you. You've been a great help. [He salutes to JA, and walks away.]
BK [smiling to himself]: You're welcome.
JA [growling]: You tricked him, didn't you? BK: No, I told him the truth.
JA: You wouldn't do anything except to get better from it. BK: If I lied to him, he wouldn't come back to me for help, would he? When the ducts are cleaned out the generator will break down, and when that's repaired the food dispensers will clog up, and the plaster will crack on the west wall because of a fault in the foundation, and--
JA: What do you mean, the generator will break down? BK: Didn't you hear it? By the way it's chugging, that thing's got days to live.
JA: So why didn't you tell him while he was here?? BK: I'm not going to tell him everything at once, am I? [JA isn't listening to him. He shouts and waves at the man who is making his way down the road behind them, oblivious.] BK [smugly]: He can't hear you. [JA, accepting this, slumps down on the ground.] If I can keep their system running for them, maybe they'll let me live.
JA: Maybe I'll kill you for lying to them. [A long silence. BK tries lying on his back, but finally returns to his foetal position. With his chin resting on his knees, he lets out a deep sigh.]
BK: I'm hungry.
JA [looking tormented, not really paying attention to BK]: You're not hungry. You're bored. I know when you're hungry. [Speaking to himself] Gatchaman... Dammit, Gatchaman, where are you? I'm waiting for you!
BK: What's this Gatchaman of yours like, anyway? JA: He's... He's like a great angel, with white wings... He brings justice to the world... He's like the sun. Even his shadow is white.
BK: That ought to stand out, in a place like this. JA: And when he comes, everything will change... This.. this whole place will disappear, and... [He tries to remember, holding his head in his hands.]
BK: Do you think he'd have a job for me?
[Silence. Just to kill time, BK gets up and walks around the bush, examining it from all angles. JA has now curled into a ball, his fingers tightly clenched around his knees. BK rummages in his pockets and finds a small carrot, that he starts to munch. He glances sideways at JA, but there's no reaction. He finishes it, lets out a contented little belch and pats his stomach. Still no reaction. Finally, having exhausted all his possibilities, he sits down again and draws up his knees.]
JA: Gatchaman....
BK: Maybe we could play cards?
JA [in one long moan]: Oh go fuck yourself, you misbegotten spawn of a toad's wart.
BK: You can talk, you smelly numbered dung-heap. When is the last time you washed?
JA: That way, at least I'm protected from your stinking breath. BK: My breath isn't anywhere near as bad as your feet. Oh, I know, let's play "match the body odour to the body part". JA: Shut up.
[BK sprawls on his back again, and looks at the sky.] BK: Was this place always like this?
JA: I don't remember.
BK: So what if Gatchaman comes? What are you going to do? JA: I'll go home.
BK: Where is home?
JA: I don't know. [He releases his knees, straightening his legs.] Far away.
BK: Will you take me with you?
JA [disgustedly]: I'll have to, won't I.
[Another long silence. BK sits up and cocks his ears like a dog hearing the rattling of a dinner dish.]
BK: We're about to have company.
[Down the road, from the direction opposite the curve, comes a high trundle bed of the type found in hospitals, with a man in it. What there is visible of him above the sheets is dressed in red; he wears red headgear peculiarly like a nun's hat, and a pair of aviator's goggles. He looks very pale. Pushing the bed is worn, troubled-looking, moustachio'd man in a suit and tie. His glasses mysteriously remain balanced on his nose, despite having no stems.]
JA [rising and half bowing in an attempt at courtesy]: A good day to you, gentlemen. What brings you here? BK [still sitting, hidden behind the bed]: You wouldn't have anything to eat, would you?
[JA kicks out, and there is a pained yelp. BK gets up and moves to the other side of the bed, glaring reproachfully at JA.] Man with glasses: We're looking for someone. Have you heard of anyone by the name of Gatchaman?
[A little gasp from JA.]
BK: We've been waiting for him all bloody day. [JA makes as if to strike BK, but BK is at the other end of the bed, behind the man with the glasses.]
JA: You're looking for Gatchaman??
Man with glasses: Indeed. [He gives BK a funny look.] But let me introduce myself. My name is Nambu. Kozaburo Nambu. This here is my colleague and old friend, Kentaro Washio, who, unfortunately [He glances down at the motionless man in the bed] seems to be too ill to greet you.
BK: What's the matter with him?
KN [giving BK another funny look]: Radiation poisoning. [BK squawks and leaps backward.]
JA: Radiation poisoning? But... he'll die. KN: Which is why we're looking for Gatchaman. He wants to see him one more time before he dies.
BK [grumpily]: *I'd* like to see him once before I die. If only to know why I'm wasting my time here.
KN: You really can't tell me where I can find Gatchaman? JA: No, I don't, I mean, I can't, er..
BK: All I can say is, don't keep following this road. It goes to the prison.
[At that moment, KW dramatically stretches his arms upwards and exclaims, in a ringing voice.]
KW: GATCHAMAN!
[KW's arms drop down limply, and he lies motionless again.] JA [not a little shaken]: Yes. Well. Won't you rest for a minute? You must have come a long way. [His brow creases.] Wait a minute. Where did you say you were from? I could swear I've seen you before.
BK: Well I haven't, and I never forget a face. JA [gruffly]: Speak when spoken to.
KN: You've seen me before? Likely. Quite likely. I used to be in all the newspapers.
JA: What's a newspaper?
BK: You must excuse him. He's illiterate. JA: Keep away from him before you kill him with your breath. BK [still safely at the other end of the bed]: Just don't take your shoes off. [JA dashes towards him and they pursue each other around the bed, while KN looks on with a raised eyebrow. At last JA grabs hold of the braid and yanks BK down, after which he starts to kick him savagely.]
KW [suddenly, stretches his arms up again]: GATCHAMAN!! [Startled, JA lets go of BK, who quickly rolls away to a safe distance.]
KN: Don't worry, he does that all the time. JA: He sounds very desperate to see Gatchaman. KN: He is his father.
JA: His father? Gatchaman's father?? [BK, having heard also, laughs hatefully. JA lunges towards him, and he shuts up.] KN: I assure you this is the father of Gatchaman. [JA looks down musingly on the pale man, rubbing his chin.] JA: He doesn't look like the Gatchaman I know. Still, I may have remembered wrong. [He rubs his head.] It's been a long time.
KN: Too long. And now I really must go. We've stayed here too long as it is.
JA: Where are you going?
KN: Off to find Gatchaman. He has to be somewhere. [He starts to push the trundle bed, approaching the curve. After some time, he can be seen some distance behind them, walking and pushing in the opposite direction.]
BK: They're going towards the prison. Suckers. JA: Maybe someone there will be able to help them. BK: Yeah. [He rummages in one of his pockets.] I've still got a carrot left. You want it?
JA [disheartened]: Yeah, why not. [He accepts what is held out to him and almost bites in it before he discovers what it is.] JA: This isn't a carrot - it's a finger! BK: Aren't you the bright spark. [He cackles.] JA [advancing on him, face tense]: Where did you get this? BK: There was a suicide five cells down from mine. I asked if I could have some of the body parts before it went down to the kitchen.
JA: Liar. It's yours, isn't it. You cut it off and then you killed yourself. [He starts to shout.] Answer me! Liar! BK [backing away, but grinning evilly]: Just be glad it wasn't something else.
[JA lunges, and BK runs. JA catches him, drags him down into a kneeling position and, squatting behind him, starts to beat him on the back and the head with one fist. If anything, they look like a pair of mating frogs.]
JA: Liar! Filthy liar!
BK [breathless from the pounding on his back]: As if you're any better.
[JA yanks him round until they're face to face.] JA [in a low, dangerous voice]: Let's hear what that's supposed to mean.
BK: Your Gatchaman. He won't come.
JA: He will.
BK: He won't. He never did. He never will. While those two are out looking for him, we're sitting here wasting our time. If he'd wanted to come, he would've come here a long time ago. JA: Liar. Liar.
BK: You don't even know if he exists, do you. You've never seen him. You don't even remember him. All you've got is your memories. Your delusions.
JA: I do. I do remember him, you bastard. BK: You do? What does he look like? What does he sound like? Do his feet smell as bad as yours? You've never been able to tell me.
JA [his grip on the other one's collar tightening]: Don't you talk about him that way, you foul-mouthed bastard. BK: You don't remember. And the doctors, do you remember them? They cut you open and emptied you out, and they put in steel and clockwork and sewed you up again. They opened your head, and they took out your brain--
JA: Shut up.
BK: And they put in more clockwork. Who says that what you remember isn't just what they put in? How can you be sure what is yours and what isn't? How can you know whether anything you are is you anymore?
JA [beginning to slap him in the face]: Shut up shut up shut up shut up SHUT UP! [JA keeps hitting him in the face until his head lolls to one side, then, with a mighty roar, holds him at arm's length and punches right through his gut, his fist disappearing under the hem of the prison shirt. The uniform instantly starts to color red, blood soaking into it from the inside. Horrified, JA hurls the body away from him and looks at his bloodied fist, with growing nausea. The body lies limp for a bit, then starts to convulse. After some time it comes to life again, and BK supports herself weakly on her elbows, her head hanging.
BK [hoarsely, with a different voice]: There's blood on my uniform...
JA: There's blood on my hands.
[He raises his arms to the sky in the same dramatic gesture as before and opens his mouth to cry a name, but no sound comes out.]


ACT II


[The same scene as before, although the bush looks even mangier, all its leaves withered. Kneeling at the roadside wearing a plastic raincoat with no buttons is BK, who is glaring at JA standing some feet away. The coat is not quite big enough and the plastic belt that comes with it isn't doing much to keep it closed, so she's clutching it at the belly and bosom to stop any skin from showing.

   JA saunters past her in a semi-arc, passing behind her, and wolf-whistles. As he does so, she snaps her head from one side to the other so as not to let him out of her sight.]


BK: Feeling like a big man now?
JA: I knew you were expecting me to. That's why I did it. BK: So now I guess I should expect you to kiss me. JA: Not a chance in hell.
BK: You must be pretty desperate, though. I mean, you haven't had it in a long time, have you?
JA: Not desperate enough for *you*.
BK: Oh, picky, are we? What makes you think you're all that hot? When was the last time you turned any heads? [JA emphatically turns his back on her.] Of course, metal doesn't do all that much for people... [Her face goes sly.] Maybe the doctors cut out a bit too much? Maybe they decided to trim off all the unnecessaries?
JA: Shut up.
BK: C'mon, let's hear it. Did they take one look and get out the carving knife? Did they check your records and decide you needed some drastic contraceptive measures? [JA raises a hand. BK can't really scramble away because of the tight raincoat, and so merely bends to one side.] Hit a woman, would you? Go on, did they cut it off? Is that why you're not interested? JA [suddenly giving her a blow that lands her on her side]: Who says I'm not interested?
BK: You like to play rough, do you? [Seeing him loom over her in what appears to be dead earnest, she tries to roll up in a tight ball, her eyes wide with fear.] NO! [He wrestles with her until she's lying flat on her back, the raincoat pulling open from both sides, and hoists his body forwards over hers. She looks panicked.] JA: Let's see you put your money where your mouth is. BK: No! Get off me! Get away from me, oh, please... [She starts to scream, or rather wail, beating at him with her fists. He pins down both her wrists with one hand, and she screams even harder. He lets her scream for a bit and then gets up, looking at her with amused contempt. She rolls onto her side at once and lies sobbing, her back towards the road.] JA: You can dish it out, but you can't take it, can you. BK [sniffling]: I'll file a complaint with the director. JA: You do that.
[He puts his hands in his pocket and gazes at the sky. BK continues to sob for a while, then slowly gets up to a sitting position, dusts off the raincoat and sits kneeling in the same way as before, but this time with her back to the road. Her braid hangs straight down to the small of her back.] BK [in a small voice]: Can we go back inside? JA: No. We're staying here.
BK: Doing what?
JA: Waiting for Gatchaman.
BK: When is he going to come?
JA: I don't know.
BK: What if he doesn't come?
JA: He will. I know he will.
BK [hangs head, begins to sob again]: I wish he would. [JA is sufficiently interested by this remark to turn and look at her with some bemusement.] I wish he would come and make it go away.
JA: Make what go away?
BK: This.
JA [almost gently, kneeling at her side]: He will come. BK: No. He won't. He never does! [She turns her head, showing her face in profile, her voice rising to a shriek.] All this time you've made me wait and he never came! Never! Never! JA [sighs]: He will come. [He gets up and walks around for a bit, while BK starts to sob again. After a while the sound gets on his nerves, and he ties to block it out by putting his hands over his ears. He's still hearing it.]
JA: Oh, stop crying, you big baby.
[Predictably, this doesn't help. He looks around thinking what to do and catches sight of someone walking down the road from the prison.]
JA: There's someone coming.
[BK stops crying at once and sits up very straight, obstinately keeping her back to the road. A portly man in his thirties arrives before them, dressed in a khaki uniform. He is carrying a flat bundle.]
Man with bundle: Which one of you is Joe Asakura? JA [lighting up]: Vladimir!
Man with bundle: You must be mistaken. My name is Estragon, ex- Galactor general and inmate at level three block D. I've been dispatched to bring you the prisoner's uniform. [JA's face falls.]
JA: Galactor scum. [He addresses BK.] Neko-chan? They got your clothes cleaned.
BK: Don't call me that.
JA: Well? Are you going to put them on? [No answer. He addresses Estragon.] Just leave them here. [He makes a gesture of dismissal, but Estragon is staring at the kneeling woman.] E: If you don't mind me asking, why are you out here? BK: I don't exactly have a choice, do I. JA: We're waiting for someone.
E: Can't you wait inside?
JA: No.
E: There's no security out here. What if she runs away? JA: She can't.
BK: There's a bomb in the back of my neck. It runs into every part of my brain. If I run away, he sets it off. E: And if you steal the detonation device? BK: It's built into his body.
E: And if you kill him?
BK: It'll activate the detonation device. E: And if you defuse him?
BK: It'll kill him.
JA: If we die, we die together. That's the deal. BK: Until Gatchaman comes.
JA: When Gatchaman comes, he'll set us free. E: Oh. [He shrugs.] Well, gotta go. Wish you luck with the waiting. [He sets off for the prison again. JA follows him with his eyes.]
JA: He's gone. Want to put on your clothes now? [A short silence.]
BK: You could at least look away.
JA [snorts]: Slut. [He walks a short distance away. BK stiffly rises, still with her back to the road, squats while tightly clutching the raincoat to pick up the uniform and disappears with it behind the bush. Despite its withered foliage, it is still too large and dense for anything behind it to show through. She spends a long time getting dressed. When at last a thin figure emerges from behind the bush to sit with knees drawn up, it is not quite the same person.]  JA: I see you changed more than your clothes. BK: Don't be horrible to me today.
JA: You deserve it. You know you do.
BK: I want to go inside.
JA: Are you afraid? [Not getting an answer, he leans forward, belligerently.] Are you afraid of me, huh? Are you? Go on, say it!
[BK hides his face in his arms, whimpering, but still doesn't answer. JA turns away from him and gazes at the sky. After a while, however, he turns back to BK again.] JA: Do you ever dream? [BK looks at him over his arms with wide eyes.] Go on, tell me. I won't hurt you. Do you ever dream? [Still no answer.] Are you hungry? I've got a radish for you. You like radishes, don't you? [He takes a radish from his pocket and offers it to BK, who eyes it uncertainly. At last, BK takes the offering and begins to nibble it, cautiously. JA waits until he has finished the radish and sits by his side.] JA: Don't you dream of the past?
BK: I don't remember the past.
JA: Yes you do. You told me you never forget anything. You never forget a face.
BK: I forget yours. Every night it goes away. Then every morning, it comes back again.
JA: And what do you see in the night?
BK: I don't know. Nothing. Darkness.
JA: Do you see Death, at night?
BK: I don't know what that is. I only know pain. JA: Would you be afraid to be dead, forever? BK: I don't know what it's like to be dead forever. JA: Would you want to know?
BK [beginning to tremble]: Why do you ask me? JA: *I* want to know.
[Silence.]
BK: Do you want to die?
JA: Sometimes. [He pauses, reflects.] More and more often. BK: Does it hurt you, too?
JA: Does what hurt me?
BK: This.
JA: This - what? Is anyone hurting you?
BK: No.
JA: Are the guards hurting you?
BK: No.
JA: Are the doctors hurting you? Are the prisoners in the block hurting you?
BK: No.
JA: Then who is?
BK: I don't know. Nobody.
[A pause.]
JA [in a soft voice]: Am *I* hurting you? [No answer. JA moves slightly closer, still talking in the same soft voice.] Tell me about the past. Tell me about Galactor.
BK [tearfully]: I don't remember.
JA: Go on. You do. It's where you came from. BK: No!!
JA: And where you said I came from. And you said I'd always return there. No matter what.
BK: No! I don't remember, I can't remember! JA: Do you remember green fields? Blue skies? Rolling waves? BK: I remember... metal...
JA: Yes?
BK: Everywhere... Shiny metal, and-- [He starts to shriek.] It's hurting me! It's hurting me!! [JA moves closer, prepared to grab him, but he calms down again.] And a light... in my head... It tells me... [He looks calm now, serene, his eyes filled with child-like wonder.] It tells me I am to be ruler of the world...
[He remains sitting with his head slightly raised, his face almost glowing. A hard, mocking sound cuts through his reverie - JA has risen to his feet and is laughing hatefully.] JA: Hahahahahahaha! Ruler of the world! [He roughly grabs BK by the shoulder and drags him up to a half-standing, half-kneeling position.] Which world? This one? Look at it! [With his other hand he grabs the braid, close to the neck, and pulls BK's head back.] You thought this would be yours? And do you like it, this world of yours? Is this what you wanted, this road, this empty sky? Look at it, damn you!
BK [keeping his eyes tightly shut]: No... no... AJ: You crawling maggot! You came here and you withered the land with your pestilential breath! You crushed all the life out of this place, all the goodness. You made this place the stinkhole that it is! [He is shouting now, angrily. He drops BK, who rolls up tightly, his head under his arms, and lies whimpering. Seeing it, JA calms down. He stands beside the rolled-up form, looking down.]
BK: No... no... no...
[The whimpering continues, mutedly, and then stops. The form remains motionless. After a while, JA goes down on one knee.] JA: Neko-chan?
[No reply.]
JA: Say something to me.
[Still no reply.]
JA: Laugh at me. Make fun of me. I know you like to do that. BK [in a chilled, ghostly voice, still not moving]: I want to go home.
JA: I know.
[JA sits, closes his eyes, rests his head on his knees. Then he raises his head and kneels at the side of the lying form again.]
JA: Neko-chan. It's going to be all right. We're going to be alright.
[There is a movement in the lying body, like a hedgehog unrolling. A face becomes visible.]
JA: We're going to be alright. Everything's going to change. I promise.
[The face is staring at JA, wide-eyed. Then the body straightens out altogether and slowly moves to a sitting position, with legs drawn up and chin on knees, the eyes still staring sideways at JA.]
JA [gently, earnestly persuading]: Gatchaman is coming. He'll save us.
BK: He'll make it go away?
JA: What?
BK: This.
JA: Yes. Yes, he will.
BK [still in the chilled, fragile voice]: Hold me. JA [recoiling slightly]: No.
BK: Hit me.
JA [more kindly]: No. [He kneels behind BK and puts his fingertips very lightly on the shoulders, his expression of distaste betraying his revulsion at even this superficial touch. BK sits very still with his eyes closed. After a while, JA very gently starts to rock him by applying pressure with his fingertips.]
JA: Do you want to sleep?
[BK nods. JA draws away, goes behind the bush, comes back with the raincoat. He lays it over BK's back horizontally, like a towel, and begins to wrap it around him, tucking in the ends. He speaks while he does so.]
JA: Gatchaman will come... And he'll bring the sun with him. The sky will be light, and full of colour. And we'll be laughing. [BK's head is sinking lower on his arms as he falls asleep.] We'll be happy, and we'll be free, and we'll go wherever we want to go. We'll always have enough to eat, and we'll have our own place to sleep. He'll show us home. He'll come on a bird of flame, splitting the heavens... [BK is now quite asleep.] And when he comes, he'll kill you. [JA gets up and crosses his arms over his chest, biting his lip. He hides his face in his hands, sighing in an effort to repress his emotions. While he is occupied in this way, a squeaking of wheels warns us that a trundle bed is on its way.] JA: I knew this wasn't over yet.
[The bed appears in view. A wasted man in a red uniform with a nun's hat and goggles is in it, looking dead. It is pushed by the same moustachio'd man with the stemless glasses as before, but looking older, thinner, more wasted. He trembles, as though barely capable of the effort of pushing the bed.] JA: Good day to you. [He casts a glance at the dead man in the bed.] Found Gatchaman yet?
KN: Alas, too late for us. I was hoping you'd had more luck. JA [dully]: No. [He bends over the bed.] He's dead? KN: Three days now.
JA: He should be just about swelling up then. [He brings up a hand to his mouth, hitting himself.] No! That was a bad thing to say. [He looks down at the sleeping bundle, invisible behind the bed.] It's him. He's inside me. I'm getting to be more like him every day. [He notices how badly KN is trembling.] Are you alright?
KN: It's the radiation sickness. It's spreading. Stay away. JA: Radiation can't hurt me. [He goes up to KN, but doesn't touch him.] We have met before, haven't we. KN: I can't honestly say as that we have, young man. But my memory isn't what it used to be. Pray give me a hand. [JA helps him to hoist himself onto the side of the bed where he sits, hollow-eyed and breathing hard.]
JA: This is ridiculous. You can't go on like this. You're dying.
KN: Oh, yes. Oh, quite. Absolutely. But we must find Gatchaman. JA: "We"? There's only one of you now!
KN [appearing not to hear him]: I made a promise to my old friend, and I must keep it. I still remember when he brought me that bundle, he said, Kozo, he said, you must be very careful of this, it is my own flesh and blood. And when it is grown, he said, you must take me to it, you must take me to my son... [Seeing that he is not being listened to, JA steps away with pain in his eyes. KN continues to inhale deeply, catching his breath. At last, he pushes himself off the side of the bed and briskly places himself behind it.]
KN: Ah well, there's a long road ahead, and who knows when we might find Gatchaman. It's been a pleasure, young man. [He starts to push, and the bed is soon going round the curve.] JA: Don't go that way! You'll just end up at the-- [He realizes they can't hear him.] You'll just end up at the prison. Idiots. [He slumps down beside the sleeping bundle and covers his head with his arms. The bundle begins to stir.] BK: G-2?
JA [his voice thick with repressed grief]: Shut up. BK: Why are you angry?
JA: Shut up.
BK: One minute you're kind to me, the next you're not. What have I done?
JA: Everything! Shut up. [Cowed, BK hides his face in his arms. JA paces towards him and rips the raincoat off him.] And you can give me that. [He sits again, his back turned to BK, and wraps it around his own shoulders like a cloak. The muscles in his throat are working.]
BK: Did he come, while I was asleep?
JA: Did who come?
BK: Gatchaman?
JA: No.
[A long silence. BK is ignoring JA and faces straight ahead, as if resigned to the fact that he will be alone from now on. He looks aged.]
BK [to no one in particular]: Do not despair. One of the thieves was hanged.
JA [still facing his own way]: You've got it wrong. You're leaving out the whole story.
BK: I like to skip the story and go straight on to the moral. [Silence.]
BK: What happened to your wrist communicator? JA: I told you. It broke.
BK: You're lying. You threw it away, didn't you? You threw it away. [He turns his head towards JA, talking more heatedly.] You always used it to call him, and one day you threw it away. Because you knew he wouldn't come any more. You knew. JA [anger making him turn, and thickening his voice]: Do you want to know what I know? The generator's going to break down soon, did you know that? And do you know what'll happen if the generator breaks down? I won't be able to recharge my batteries. And do you know what happens if I can't recharge my batteries? You know, don't you? You know! [His voice has risen to a volume peak. BK has dropped his head between his hands, as if not wanting to hear.] We'll die! We'll both die! When Gatchaman comes, we'll be dead! Both of us! BK: He won't come.
[Dropping the raincoat, JA gets up to kick at BK, who looks broken with grief. Seeing it, he goes to kick the bush instead. It's large and branchy, and kicking it doesn't really do much good. He sits again and stares, morosely.] BK: You don't even bother to look at the sky any more. [JA doesn't reply.]
BK [again, to no one in particular]: Do not presume. One of the thieves was saved.
JA [with tired patience]: You're getting it wrong. There were two sentences. Do not despair, one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume, one of the thieves was hanged. You're running it all together.
BK: I like my morals compact.
[Silence.]
BK: Even if we die. He'll still come. Won't he. JA [with sudden brutality]: If he comes, he'll kill you. [BK winces as if struck. JA gets up and towers over him, glowering at him like a wrathful god. BK hides his face. Satisfied that BK is sufficiently cowed, JA steps away.] BK [in a very small voice]: Scum.
[JA throws up his arms to the heavens. He opens his mouth as if to cry out, and his lips frame a word. But no sound comes out.]





                               THE END
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