A play by Vasco Pimentel
MARIE- Somewhat underweight. In her late thirties.
STEPH- Very promiscuous attire. In her late twenties.
GEOFF- The group sponsor. In his late fifties.
PAUL- Typical artist demeanour. In his early thirties.
Addicts Anonymous circle of people. Set anywhere around Australia.
Late afternoon inside an old, beat-down church. A big and old silver fan can be heard blasting incessantly. A circle of chairs is seen middle stage with a few people sitting awkwardly in them. One is deep asleep with his belly hanging. A coffee table with some snacks to the right. The door is set to the left.
MARIE: And that was the turning point. Up until then, I was the spitting image of innocence. No smoking. Drinking at special occasions only. Damn, I wouldn’t even eat deep-fried food. But I guess all these restrictions just kept on adding up. (pause.) Life comes in chunks, and if you just keep on denying yourself little nibbles off it, you are going to reach a boiling point. And that’s what happened at that party. I don’t know if it was the red wine, I wasn’t used to drinking back then. But yeah, all it took was that first step. And as soon as I took that leap, I understood how liberating it all was, how I’d been depriving myself of life itself, and since I had started, I saw no point in stopping! Or better, I couldn’t stop. (pause.) It was like seeing myself from an outside perspective, doing all the things I’d never see myself doing.
STEPH: And then came the self-loathing…
MARIE: Exactly! When I finally woke up from that night, I was ashamed of myself. I’d always been the one criticizing the girl who did this, or did that… And that’s exactly what I’d become, and I hated myself for it. I guess that’s where it all spiralled outta control.
GEOFF: Addiction acts in weird ways. (silence.)
PAUL: I feel like writing helps me process it. And your speech then Marie, my word, some amazing analogies you made there! We should record this!
MARIE: My god, no way! These are my deepest secrets! How can you be entertained by all this?
PAUL: Marie, I mean no disrespect, quite the opposite. I just find life fascinating ever since I discovered writing. It’s what’s gotten me out of the hole, and that is the whole point: drug addicts are seen as the bottom of society, with no contribution to the world whatsoever. Yet, here I am, a three-time published novelist who survived a sea of ecstasy! (Steph crosses her legs onto Paul’s direction.)
GEOFF: I thought you were deep in heroin, not pills.
PAUL: Yes Geoff, I meant it lyrically. See, this is why I get up in the morning, meaning. (he locks onto Steph’s attentive gaze.) The myriad of ways of seeing the world. Marie’s speech just makes me want to write and show how us junkies, or recovering junkies, have a say in the world! (he winks at Steph, who looks away.)
MARIE: Is that all that we are to you? Inspiration for your next novel?
GEOFF: Remember everything we share in this room stays in the room.
STEPH: I’ll make sure you don’t leave either otherwise. You promised Paul.
PAUL: Both interesting and scary at the same time, Steph. (she smiles.) You lot don’t understand. We are all subjects of a wider experiment.
GEOFF: That’s enough for now Paul. (pause.) Who would like to go next? (Geoff looks around the room of cross-armed listeners.)
STEPH: I’ll go. (clears her throat.) I’ve been struggling now that the twins go to school every day. Making sure everything is spot on used to be how I’d get my mind off things. And I swear, if it weren’t for the twins, I wouldn’t be here. But every time I’ve dropped them off and come back to that empty apartment, I just see no meaning to life. And this is just primary school, who knows what will happen once they decide to leave for good!
GEOFF: Steph, if you’ll allow me. (pause.) It seems like you are struggling with keeping yourself busy outside the twins. Now, we all know how the miracle of birth of those two beautiful boys has helped throughout the years, but there is more to life than motherhood! Have you considered going back on a dating scene?
STEPH: God no! It was a monster of a man who introduced me to ice. My life would’ve turned out fine if I hadn’t met him! Why would I need another man?
PAUL: You wouldn’t have had Jax and Cody if you hadn’t met him.
GEOFF: Paul, please, refrain from making smart comments. This is a space for confiding free of judgement.
PAUL: It’s only true! What about a woman then? Nothing wrong with that.
STEPH: If you really knew me, you’d know that our Lord and saviour does not approve of such obscenities. Come on, Paul.
PAUL: As Marie said so herself, all it takes is that first step… (winks at Steph once more.)
MARIE: How dare you!?
GEOFF: Alright everybody, that’s enough!
(Silence around the room.)
So now, Paul, seeing that you are in such a talkative mood today, would you like to share?
PAUL: I thought you’d never ask. Ok. (pause.) So, I’ve been experimenting with my writing methods and inspirations, and it turns out that all of my past experiences with drugs are what lead to my most productive writing timelines. But that has got me thinking. Is there inspiration in sobriety? Which made me look at writing, and in consequence at life, in a whole different way. I now find that a joint in the morning helps me…
GEOFF: Paul! (he slaps his hand on his leg.) Look around the room. (pause.) We are all here because of drugs, and here you are suggesting more drugs as a solution for your lack of ideas? Do you listen to yourself?
PAUL: What, you don’t really consider devil’s lettuce a problem, do you? (Marie scoffs in disbelief. Steph is entertained.)
GEOFF: That is beyond the point.
PAUL: Ok, ok. I did go a bit off script. But anyway, long story short, I’ve been reconsidering my options and now that I’ve embraced my former drug abuse, I’ve come to the conclusion that, yeah, I’m past this addiction and I’m keen on revisiting it. (silence.) But not in an addictive way. (pause.) And in answer to your question Geoff, no, I do not listen to myself until the actual words come out of my mouth. Doing so would be jeopardizing the expression process. (Geoff puts his hands on his head in disbelief.)
GEOFF: Alright everyone, disregard Paul here for a second. (pause.) Paul, seeing you are ready to put all the work we have done thus far behind you; I am going to ask you to leave now.
PAUL: What? What happened to ‘confiding free of judgement’? (he gets up.) You know what, I don’t need this. I am cured and I’m ready to start a new, fresh life. If anyone wants to join me you know where to find me. Anyone? (pause. He looks around the room and sets his eyes on Steph to finish his round of inquisitive gazes. She looks away.) No one? Ok. I’ll leave. Just know you’ll miss me around here! (he opens the door to leave.) So long, suckers!
GEOFF: (exhales deeply.) Ok. Now that we got that out of the way, who would like to go next? Steph, care to continue? (Steph gets up swiftly to leave the room.) Steph, don’t! It’s a sinking ship! Remember the twins!
STEPH: (she looks back as she opens the door.) I’m just following your advice! Thanks, Geoffie!
(silence around the room.)
GEOFF: (exhales deeply again.) Okay… who would like to go next?