More about play.
(STROKE – the act of striking the ball with the racquet.)
June 2014, April-May 2015
In front of curtain is table with chair. Ian Davies sits in chair, his back to audience. Near table stays man in suit, Ruff West.
WEST: I still don’t understand why we take part in that crazy idea.
DAVIES: West, we can use it.
WEST: Davies, I work with you years. You never listen to amateur, suspect amateur.
DAVIES: Ruff, we can do this just once.
WEST: Ian, it’s not about work. Yes.
DAVIES: Stupid suggestion.
WEST: You didn’t prove me that I’m wrong.
DAVIES: I just know more than any one else.
WEST: Undercover operation, I read everything.
DAVIES: What is your work?
WEST: Cameras, microphones, everything are in place.
DAVIES: Are you sure that Stanley Klein didn’t check everything?
DAVIES: You know, that his newspaper have no idea...
WEST: About tournament?
DAVIES: Courses of web-design helped him to made this meeting.
WEST: You would play witness.
DAVIES: Already. Put in my list of games. How he could invited me in another way.
WEST: Not too much details.
DAVIES: Everything was vaguely. We still don’t know for sure.
WEST: If no one notice him, why bother after her death.
DAVIES: Magnificent “if”.
WEST: At his own risk.
DAVIES: Have respect for his attempt.
WEST: Not a problem that killer is in jail now.
DAVIES: He knows that we haven’t enough proofs. We must appreciate his work.
WEST: You know that you are mad.
DAVIES: I could be objective.
WEST: Even when we talk about tennis.
Davies stands up from the chair. He dressed all in white: shorts, T-short, socks and shoes. He takes racquet from the table.
DAVIES: We begin with love and we’ll see, who will win.
Two men play tennis without ball. Stanley Klein is nervous, his opponent Edwin Taylor more relaxed, he doesn’t miss the “ball”.
On the bench sit four men. One of them is Ian Davies. They watch and comment with gestures “the game”.
TAYLOR: If you will play the same on the court it will be bad.
KLEIN: We try to entertain audience till...
Joseph Mills stands up from bench.
MILLS: Rain has to stop. Your newspaper could think about close court.
KLEIN: It was cheaper.
DAVIES: Usual answer for all troubles.
Barry Bauer also stands up.
BAUER: We could talk for year or I could go and check everything.
DAVIES (loud): Bring to us olive branch.
Adrian Parker starts to laugh.
PARKER: He hopes that rain was stop.
BAUER: Inappropriate joke.
TAYLOR: We could have game here if weather doesn’t change.
PARKER: It could be another day.
Sound of knock at the door.
DAVIES: What is it?
BAUER: Door is closed.
BAUER: We are shut in. Bad joke, Klein.
KLEIN: I was here. How I could?
DAVIES: You have to try harder.
BAUER: Try yourself, smarty.
KLEIN: Don’t look at me, I was with all of you.
PARKER: Who else need this?
DAVIES: Door is closed, Klein!
KLEIN: It have to be a mistake. We’ll wait for judge, he just late, as always. He’ll find us.
PARKER: What the hell?
Loud sound of voice “You know why you are here. You tell the truth, or die here.”
MILLS: What was that?
DAVIES: Who is you?
TAYLOR: We need to check another possibility for escape.
PARKER: Did you imply exit?
KLEIN: Calm down, all of you. We are in net.
DAVIES: We noticed, clever.
BAUER: He has a point. We are observed by someone.
TAYLOR: One of us.
BAUER: We’ll find an answer and we all be free.
DAVIES: You watched films with several people in closed place.
BAUER: Yes. It’s always a solution.
TAYLOR: And not everyone at the end of story are live.
Voice “You know why you are here. You tell the truth, or die here. You have two hours.”
TAYLOR: We have enough time to clear up the problem.
TAYLOR: Someone to confess? Time comes. We can’t sit here for two hours mute.
BAUER: You have something to tell.
PARKER: Our host, Klein. You know why we are here.
MILLS: Your newspaper organized our meeting and now this menace.
DAVIES: Accusation it’s wrong.
TAYLOR: Your plan.
DAVIES: Try to think. Why we are here?
MILLS: You remind me that crazy voice.
DAVIES: Why we? Not they, but we. What we have in common?
DAVIES: Perhaps. All I see first time. What about others?
BAUER: Never. Even on tournaments.
KLEIN: Do you remember all?
BAUER: I would memorize you, you have unique style of game.
TAYLOR: No style.
MILLS: I also don’t know no one.
PARKER: It was sole chance to have all of us in one place.
DAVIES: Not bad idea. Why tennis?
MILLS: It could be connected with something else. Zoo, where I was with my newphew.
DAVIES: I haven’t children.
KLEIN: Me too. And I was in zoo only at primary school.
TAYLOR: Than tennis. We could tell story connected to tennis and you chose the one. Do you hear me?
BAUER: With whom are you talking?
TAYLOR: You really believe that if someone closed us here, he didn’t bother to listen or watch us now.
MILLS: Could be true.
DAVIES: Could be?
PARKER: We are in the trap, it’s fault of one of us and we find out whose.
PARKER: We could be honest if it’s connect with our life. Absolutely sincere.
MILLS: Will you begin with yourself?
PARKER: I’m not chicken, like you all.
KLEIN: If you such open, why you wait for so long.
DAVIES: You don’t want that he will speak.
PARKER: Thank you. I’m Adrian Parker, non-professional tennis player. I take part in many tournaments. My work is connected to tennis. All my money are from it.
PARKER: I am bad player.
PARKER: I had found that many people are glad when their opponent is worst. They agree to play in such way. When they could win.
KLEIN: I don’t understand.
PARKER: My daily schedule – I teach tennis young women, sometimes sleep with them.
DAVIES: Boring romance with tennis teacher.
PARKER: No. I always loose when play with her husband or her dad.
MILLS: I didn’t get.
DAVIES: They pay you for lessons, to have an opportunity to win.
KLEIN: Private dancer, dancer for money...
PARKER: If it’s me and you are jealous husband, everyone could be free. And we could just talk about it. Hey!
Voice “You know why you are here. You tell the truth, or die.”
PARKER: What a shame. I told you it was easy. Next please.
MILLS: One stupid question, Adrian.
MILLS: That women, why they can’t play tennis.
PARKER: They need me, not the racquet.
MILLS: It could be noticed.
PARKER: As I know, after I said “Goodbye” all of them with great pleasure won all sets from loved one man.
DAVIES: I think it was lovely, but if we go and try to break that door it will be more effective than talks.
BAUER: Great idea.
KLEIN: You heard what voice said.
TAYLOR: We could try.
Everyone go and Mills takes Parker by hand to stop him.
MILLS: They could attempt and I have few questions.
PARKER: About tennis?
PARKER: I’ll stay, poor boy. You tried to impress your girlfriend.
MILLS: Oh, yes.
MILLS: To her I was a machine to give her balls.
PARKER: You wanted to play better, she will pay attention.
MILLS: You understand.
PARKER: What’s the problem?
MILLS: I have no idea, she left me, like all of them after one or two games.
MILLS: 0:6, 1:6.
PARKER: Bad, very bad.
MILLS: Why? I worked day and night and I’m best.
PARKER: You want to sleep with that woman.
MILLS: Of course.
PARKER: Than win from man, give her opportunity to win. You know, it’s not punishment with ball, if you give her victory option. She gives you more freedom. You know what I’m talk about.
PARKER: You’ll try yourself after we will be free.
MILLS: Thank you.
PARKER: One more, if you want to teach girl play, not bother her with rules or ground strokes. Most of the time spend on learning grips.
PARKER: Your hand, her hand. Your body next to her. After it try with swinging of racquet and if everything will go misguided, you’ll give her a ball and begin the game.
MILLS: It’s wrong.
PARKER: Yes. If everything work, next time your racquet will stay in the cover.
MILLS: And game?
PARKER: Your question was about women, wasn’t it? I’ll go and help the others.
Mills and Parker exit.
Everyone are on stage, upset.
KLEIN: Not the best idea, maybe we could return to the stories.
DAVIES: If I was wrong with door, it’s my turn to be honest.
BAUER: It was nice try.
DAVIES: Thank you. I just don’t want to sit and...
DAVIES: Exactly. My name is Ian Davies, I play tennis since childhood, start to play with my father and uncle. No, it’s my hobby. My main work is also connected with tennis. I collect. In reality I buy and sold racquets.
PARKER: Buy and sold.
KLEIN: I don’t understand.
TAYLOR: It’s your usual state of mind.
KLEIN: Is respect for everyone such a horrible trait?
DAVIES: I buy and sold rare racquets for collections.
MILLS: Someone buy it. Old, used.
DAVIES: It’s depend whose sweat are on them,
BAUER: With signatures is easy.
DAVIES: Yes. My story is about money.
KLEIN: What the big deal?
DAVIES: My, how to tell. Not always correct description is with item.
DAVIES: Not exactly. Who knows if William Charlies Renshaw really hold this racquet in hand.
TAYLOR: We will wait for our voice. Maybe it’s someone who devastated that not all broken racquets which you sold are from finals of Wimbledon.
Voice “You know why you are here.”
BAUER: We haven’t another way out.
PARKER: Who will be next? Volunteer or spin your racquet?
DAVIES: Maybe our host?
KLEIN: It’s my newspaper, not me...
PARKER: You have something to hide, but you want to know our secrets.
MILLS: Tell us your story.
BAUER: Two games we already played. You turn to be a server.
KLEIN: Who is receiver?
DAVIES: Our friendly voice who we hope wants to kill only one of us.
KLEIN: You hope that we all have second set to win a match.
MILLS: Hope costs nothing. Tell.
KLEIN: I will tell, but it’s won’t help, I warn you.
PARKER: Remember your story have to be believable, because you are main suspect.
KLEIN: I? What?
TAYLOR: I agree, you have a motive and opportunity.
DAVIES: You knew that we all be there and it’s your newspaper organized tournament.
KLEIN: Foolish. I came in tennis when was a child. Like all of you. Tried to play solo. Coach thought that I’m best in doubles.
BAUER: How played the second?
KLEIN: We won few tournaments for teenagers, till...
MILLS: What happened?
KLEIN: He played like it was good ball. I agreed with judge, it was out. We lost that game.
DAVIES: That’s all.
KLEIN: I was victim. Father of that boy with whom I played, he was an owner of the court. I was thrown away from sport. Short story.
BAUER: I can’t hear that ugly voice and door also doesn’t open.
TAYLOR: How about whole truth?
KLEIN: It’s complete.
TAYLOR: Another court, another doubles. Why you became a journalist? If you was aspiring star who fought for truth.
KLEIN: You heard me, he was an owner and he never excuse me that game.
DAVIES: Did he close all clubs for you?
BAUER: One game is not the reason for revenge.
TAYLOR: I agree. What was it all about?
KLEIN: Nothing. Argument on the court. I just told about out.
MILLS: What did you say?
KLEIN: It was years ago.
DAVIES: Don’t you think it’s proper place and time to repeat it to us?
TAYLOR: It could be that boy, man, who you upset many years ago and now he wants satisfaction.
KLEIN: Absurd. He is dead.
TAYLOR: Interesting. You have what to hide.
KLEIN: Fine. I’ll tell. He, I said that he... He was on drugs and I told that he can’t see proper that it was out. He died of overdose.
BAUER: His father, family, they could count on vengeance.
KLEIN: Never in life. They said that son died after heart attack. No one knew that he was on drugs.
DAVIES: Now we know.
Voice “You know why you are here.”
MILLS: It wasn’t your secret.
DAVIES: We need to think why we here.
PARKER: I agree to idea with reveal. Maybe everyone will tell their story and we learn why.
DAVIES: Why you decided to came here?
MILLS: I received postcard “You want to play in tournament”.
TAYLOR: I receive the same advertisement.
KLEIN: Why you agree?
DAVIES: Because of second letter.
MILLS: What about?
DAVIES: About me.
DAVIES: All my games on unprofessional meetings, all scores.
TAYLOR: Yes. When I read it I thought – I don’t know who they are, but they know who I am.
KLEIN: Don’t look at me. You are not big stars that every newspaper in word know about all your games with neighbours.
MILLS: Very kind. I thought it was the same sponsor.
PARKER: Or someone in crowd.
BAUER: It was precisely and without mistakes. I made my notes about every game, they are on my account on-line.
TAYLOR: If could guarantee our story. Why bother? Call the police and everything will be instead of you.
DAVIES: Police need evidences.
MILLS: But confession. Could be enough?
KLEIN: Witness against myself. Difficult, but could work.
TAYLOR: Lawyer could change it.
BAUER: It’s not about police.
BAUER: Someone don’t want or don’t believe in law and want to make own justice.
KLEIN: Than we are in bigger trouble that it looks like at the beginning.
Voice “You know why you are here.”
DAVIES: Shut up. Sorry. It’s distracting.
BAUER: Any one receive letters with threats.
TAYLOR: Someone watch too many mystery TV serials.
BAUER: I try to think.
PARKER: Better admit.
DAVIES: Next about what you’ll say that our victim or villain is left handed.
BAUER: I just make an effort to think.
KLEIN: You could tell the truth.
MILLS: They don’t know who from us it was.
MILLS: Are you believe that it made one person? Put us together and try to scary.
PARKER: Why you think that?
MILLS: I don’t know, because we are six and if one man is behind it, we could win a fight.
BAUER: You said that I watch a lot of TV.
DAVIES: It’s idiotic. We know nothing, they know nothing. Why we are here?
Voice “You know why you are here.”
PARKER: It became boring.
KLEIN: Next truth.
DAVIES: Or we could speak about something else.
BAUER: In such circumstances?
DAVIES: Just for change. You are...
TAYLOR: Edwin Taylor.
DAVIES: Yes. I supposed to play first game with you.
TAYLOR: I remember.
DAVIES: What happened with your nose?
MILLS: Are you trying to find a sweetheart?
DAVIES: Normal chatter with man.
TAYLOR: Boxing. A lot of boxing.
KLEIN: And now tennis?
TAYLOR: Yes. Smashed face or smashed racquet.
MILLS: I understand what you chose.
BAUER: That’s the reason why your racquets are cheap.
TAYLOR: I buy them twenty at once.
PARKER: You still boxing.
TAYLOR: No. Run. Every day.
MILLS: To be in shape.
BAUER: How long is your daily routine?
TAYLOR: Till I could move legs.
KLEIN: Why you agree to that tournament?
TAYLOR: It was for a long time, when I take part in something. And it was allowed to me.
BAUER: You can use a court when you like.
PARKER: What happened in that match which you lost?
TAYLOR: I can’t get.
DAVIES: It’s obvious, if you won, you won’t be angry and nobody was hurt.
KLEIN: Oh my God, I remember it couldn’t be him. I wrote about it.
MILLS: We would be happy to hear this story.
TAYLOR: It was argument after the game.
KLEIN: You put racquet on the head of that man.
MILLS: Even for me it’s not enough to be locked here.
TAYLOR: We talk about everything with lawyers, all is in the past. He knows my temper, when I became furious.
KLEIN: You could be just a mistake.
MILLS: If they don’t know who, they could made an error.
BAUER: What the hell they know?
DAVIES: Good idea.
KLEIN: If they don’t know who, they know what.
PARKER: And where?
PARKER: It have to be on tennis court, or if we are here, than in the changing room.
KLEIN: We have to remember all matches in which we took part.
DAVIES: The one with the neighbours also count.
KLEIN: Do you find an exit?
MILLS: And you.
DAVIES: You are... Why you don’t just put your racquet?
BAUER: Barry Bauer. Practice makes perfect.
MILLS: We are closed in this place, if you remember.
BAUER: I wanted to be professional tennis player.
KLEIN: We all wanted it, before.
BAUER: Now we are in trap.
DAVIES: How many times a day do you practice?
MILLS: Is it important?
BAUER: Twice. Better to talk about it than...
BAUER: Do you really want to know what I want to say?
KLEIN: Why not?
BAUER: I am thinking that one of us is son of the bitch and we are here forever.
PARKER: How about you?
BAUER: You face is not impress me. I’m not one of your women.
MILLS: We are here because of playing tennis, not because of stolen cars.
PARKER: We wait for your story.
DAVIES: It’s not about your racquet or stroke. You forget about the ball. We have to find an answer.
MILLS: I don’t remember all my matches. It like a basket loaded with more than hundred balls and you ask me to point at ball with which I played three month ago on Tuesday.
TAYLOR: What was special?
TAYLOR: Why you remember that match, three month ago on Tuesday.
MILLS: It was murder. I was a witness. I didn’t see anything. They asked a lot of questions. I still remember his name. Ruff West, call me if you recollect anything.
KLEIN: Do you mean bloody stroke?
KLEIN: We call that story in newspaper. You know, stroke – striking the ball with racquet. Dead woman, lot of blood. Blood stroke.
PARKER: She wasn’t kill by ball.
MILLS: It was headline.
TAYLOR: What else was wrong? Try to memorize.
MILLS: I can’t retain anything, I told police.
TAYLOR: No. I wasn’t witness of murder. But blood. I can’t remember.
PARKER: Too many punches in head.
MILLS: Taylor could be right.
KLEIN: In what.
MILLS: If it weren’t our faults. If it was something what we saw.
PARKER: Now you say it, after our confessions. You know too much and you all have to be afraid of revenge after opening our secrets.
DAVIES: Maybe he has a good thought.
DAVIES: Because if it was about score, we won’t be here.
Voice “You know why you are here.”
KLEIN: Shut up. You are not on time. I just go crazy.
TAYLOR: We noticed.
PARKER: Game which you imagined always more difficult than game which you really play.
BAUER: Klein, when you remark about stupid headline...
BAUER: Absolutely. Not important. On one tournament we had a tennis player. We called him “bloody Jack”.
BAUER: Like “Jack the Ripper”. He walked in his costume in shower and wash it that way.
TAYLOR: I do this all time. My girl says it’s laziness.
BAUER: No. After game he had blood on hands. His hands was... I don’t know tender... and it was blood on racquet. Disgusting.
MILLS: Why remember about him now?
BAUER: Bloody stroke and bloody Jack.
DAVIES: Could he kill with racquet?
TAYLOR: Only made inquiries.
KLEIN: You are our expert. Woman was killed with a sharp knife.
PARKER: He would leave bloody marks on victim and weapon.
KLEIN: Weapon police didn’t find.
MILLS: You know too much for this case.
DAVIES: He wrote about it and asked a lot from police, didn’t you?
KLEIN: It’s my job.
TAYLOR: Blood have to be on hands, on shorts, on racquet.
MILLS: It’s too obvious.
PARKER: Police would suspect him at first.
KLEIN: He is in prison, before court.
BAUER: You wanted a bloody story for your newspaper with a witness. You do that.
PARKER: Put us together. First hand story it’s cool.
TAYLOR: Open the door, or I’ll put on your head a racquet.
KLEIN: Sorry. Just. Fine. It’s too much to ask about exclusive.
Sound of open door.
PARKER: If at least one word.
MILLS: Respect my private life.
Parker, Taylor, Mills and Bauer take their belongings and don’t turn away, exit.
KLEIN: You don’t have to say bad words to me in private. I understand. You still have your business with racquets.
DAVIES: I know that. I was amazed by your creativity. Klein.
DAVIES: Such work. Of course you are over emotional. Sometimes you could spoil everything. Few times it was almost out.
KLEIN: Police also didn’t make an ace.
DAVIES: You asked questions, you wanted truth. New witness. Bloody expectations.
KLEIN: It could be sensation.
DAVIES: Now they don’t want to speak with you.
KLEIN: It’s always enough for story.
DAVIES: Strangers in closed changing room. Scared, they say you more than in usual talk.
KLEIN: You collecting racquets, right.
DAVIES: Good memory.
KLEIN: Why play?
DAVIES: Sometimes clients want to feel racquet in game.
KLEIN: Did you give them?
DAVIES: All price and 10% above for damaging during presentation.
KLEIN: Not bad. You have to loose all the time.
DAVIES: Sometimes it just a good game. And when I tired I know main thing.
KLEIN: Which one?
DAVIES: My opponent is also tired. If you could stay longer, a bit longer you could win a game.
KLEIN: Interesting. But what is the point.
DAVIES: Opponent made mistakes.
KLEIN: Or he could have more force.
DAVIES: I know one person. He always had in hand ball.
KLEIN: To make hand stronger, I read about it. How he is now as player?
DAVIES: He died.
DAVIES: Once he dropped his ball in river.
DAVIES: He can’t swim but want his ball. He died.
KLEIN: Useless and stupid story.
DAVIES: He was stubborn. But all the time he kept eye on ball.
KLEIN: You could also went away, like rest of them.
DAVIES: Do you watch again all matches?
KLEIN: I spent all my free time on that.
DAVIES: Me too.
KLEIN: On which match do you want to be present?
KLEIN: If you could choose.
DAVIES: 19 July, 1877, England, Wimbledon.
KLEIN: First open tournament on lawn-tennis.
DAVIES: Oh, yes.
KLEIN: Big dream.
DAVIES: At least watch video!
KLEIN: Not bad.
DAVIES: Tennis is played primary with the mind. When I’m playing doubt I prefer to chose baseline.
KLEIN: Why? Service line is better.
DAVIES: From baseline is better view. You are not good tennis player.
KLEIN: How do you know?
DAVIES: During our imprisonment, ball went in ever direction the strings of racquet were facing.
DAVIES: Every one tell his story, we haven’t return of the ball over the net.
DAVIES: No. It was game to notice you.
KLEIN: Notice me?
DAVIES: Mills remember body, even name of Ruff West, but he didn’t remember you. It was great help in organizing all this.
KLEIN: What about?
DAVIES: Knife in the handle of the racquet. Blood everywhere. Poor woman who said that you was not for her. He can’t prove about drugs. He just can’t prove.
KLEIN: Who? Which drugs?
DAVIES: Father of that boy. It was you who give this drugs to him. You gave it her, to easy play. Drugs matched. You didn’t need money from her. Like drug dealer you knew opportunity, where to hide knife.
KLEIN: I have no idea.
DAVIES: Everybody know how to hide something in the racquet handle, since Agatha Christie’s “Cat among pigeons”.
KLEIN: You suspect me in something.
DAVIES: You are a killer.
DAVIES: And I’m from police. West, take him away.
WEST: Kidnapping people.
WEST: They agree to make statements against you.
KLEIN: I’m not a murderer.
DAVIES: Knife. It was too sharp. Inside racquet, on blade was blood of woman and someone else, not “bloody Jack”, with whom played everyone in that room. You blood will match.
KLEIN: I need a lawyer.
DAVIES: You need less believe in your unmistakable game. “The fifth set is not about tennis, it’s about nerves. Boris Becker.”
KLEIN: You don’t prove nothing. It wasn’t kidnapping, it was journalist investigation.
DAVIES: “You can never be bigger than the game and I think you always have to remember that. Roger Federer.”
WEST: It was interesting, chief.
DAVIES: “I have always considered tennis as a combat in an arena between two gladiators who have their courage as their weapons. Yannick Noah.”
KLEIN: You played.
DAVIES: No. In my mind I see only ball. Opponent, weather, spectators are not important. Play only with the ball. And you watched at everyone. I focused on you. You tried to run for every ball. You killed girl before sets, took shower, wash blood and played next set with “bloody Jack”. Hope nobody will buy your manuscript about motives of killing that young woman.
KLEIN: I never thought about writing a book.
WEST: When you played there we searched your flat. Manuscript. And we found drags, never could stop.
KLEIN: It was for me.
DAVIES: If you still wonder, we have enough evidence against you. Change tactic inside game is bad manoeuvre.
KLEIN: I didn’t play a game.
DAVIES: You bring your racquet, you have to be prepared for game.
KLEIN: It wasn’t 6:0.
DAVIES: You are concentrate only at opponent, you forget about that net also plays against you.
KLEIN: Ball railed among all players. I chose them.
DAVIES: Like in real match play. You find the one whose scores were on-line. Mills alone could became suspectful.
KLEIN: Somebody told you that you are crazy?
DAVIES: My wife.
KLEIN: Wise woman.
DAVIES: I tell her that daily.
West and Klein go. Davies turns racquet in hand.
DAVIES: Good weather for game. I’m glad it wasn’t 59:59.
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