The Spoonbill

Act One – Trivial Pursuing

Three women sit in a restaurant: LAURA, RO and CAM. They are waiting for a fourth empty chair to be taken. The fifth chair has been commandeered by Laura’s belongings: bag, hat and coat. RO divides her attention between her mobile phone and the menu. CAM is content to watch the world unfold around her, people- and place-watching. LAURA is the least ‘at-ease’. [Note: as the replication of a place where society gathers, the audience is encouraged to leave mobile phones on.]

Enter INCARNATION #1. He breaks into the space with exuberance and joy. It is obviously an act.

INCARNATION #1: The viscosity of it all! Here they are my three troubles!

INCARNATION #1 moves across the stage towards the table as the three women physically sign their respective greetings.

INCARNATION #1: Have you seen it out there? There are people. People in the streets! I mean people, people!

RO: It’s an enforced return. Nothing more, nothing less. LAURA: The beast from somewhere in the East has passed. CAM: He’s still in the building.

INCARNATION #1: I can be a bit beastly, true.

LAURA: It takes more than that to bring this city to a standstill.

RO: It wasn’t the bug that told the city to stop. It was your Government. You softies are so funny, it’s -.

INCARNATION #1: Yes, yes; so you’ve said. Wouldn’t know our assholes from our aspirations unless we’re told ‘em. (to an unseen) I’m joining these ladies.

LAURA: Doesn’t make it any less -.

RO: Valid?

CAM: (with a thick Cornish accent) Bea-shtly!

INCARNATION #1 stops as he reaches the back of the empty chair.

INCARNATION #1: How did you know? That’s exactly how I feel, Cam. That one word and all the vehemence you just put into it.

CAM: You feel that bad? Come, come. Sit and tell me. LAURA: Tell us.

INCARNATION #1 suddenly leans against the chair, his hands on the back of it, using it to hold him up. He bows his head and pauses there for a few substantial moments. The three women pick up on the hesitation.

INCARNATION #1: (head still bowed) Y’know something, lady-friends- of-mine? As a writer…

RO: Model.

CAM: Actor.

LAURA: Whatever.

INCARNATION #1: (snaps to attention) Fuck you. As a writer with fingers in pies left and right and centrestage, but mostly as a writer…. As a writer, there is one word in the entire English language that I just – will – not – use. The only word I will not abide by is the C-word.

INCARNATION #1 straightens up and takes his 70s-styled jacket off. Next, a woollen sweater comes off. Both go over the back of the chair. A certain Hollywood actress of the 80s has her face emblazoned all over the t-shirt INCARNATION #1 wears.

LAURA: Where’s the boy?

INCARNATION #1: I’ll tell you where he is. He’s off being a fucking cunt.

INCARNATION #1 remains stood behind the still-empty chair. None of the women ask him anything further, though questions are on their lips.

INCARNATION #1: We had a one hundred-and-two pound argument. RO: A hundred-and-two pounds on lunch?

INCARNATION #1: Mostly on espresso martinis.

CAM: Ah. Is that why you feel so vehemently beastly? LAURA: They will bump the bill up.

RO: You’re keeping it together remarkably well.

INCARNATION #1: I am keeping everything together with remarkable wellness at the moment.

He finally sits down: a slump.

INCARNATION #1: Who’s our designated waitress?

LAURA: I don’t remember her face.

CAM: You think she’s a she?

RO: Do we need to know?

INCARNATION #1: I don’t care if it’s man, woman, vegetable or mineral as long as it can bring me some caffeine. I need an injection. This has been too much of a day. No, Laura, not adult caffeine. Not yet.

CAM: Not again, you mean.

RO: I presume you want to talk about it?

LAURA: I presume you don’t want to sit here in silence, rather.

CAM: God, we’ve been doing that at home on our own for months! What’s been goin’ on? I was looking forward to meeting him.

RO: You still haven’t?

LAURA: When does she ever allow herself the social?

CAM: Erm. Extraneous circumstances. Please don’t tell me you’ve been out -.


RO: Even if she had, she wouldn’t tell us.

LAURA: I haven’t! And I’ve fucking missed it. I’ve even missed being silent with you guys. All I get from Will is prattle prattle prattle, blah blah blah.

They all fall silent, LAURA aware that the attention is on her. She raises her eyebrows. Silence reigns.

LAURA: Okay! That’s enough. Talk. Please, tell me things. It’s not really silence I want.

RO: I don’t mind.

CAM: So is he coming here? I want to meet him!

INCARNATION #1: You may never, now.

RO: It can’t be that bad?

LAURA: He’s just overdramatising. It’s what they all do.

INCARNATION #1: Us gays?

LAURA: No, you artists.

INCARNATION #1: Well, this artist is fucking exhausted. Already. It’s not even… 5pm on a Sunday. I’m tipsy, tired and… Tragic. I thought daytime drinking was meant to be a lot more fun and easygoing than this.

CAMELIA-SAM: Depends on the company.

RO: We’re not used to it.

LAURA: Speak for yourself. (to INCARNATION #1) I thought being somebody’s boyfriend was going swimmingly well?

INCARNATION #1: It was, but we seem to spend most of our time swimming upstream towards each other. It’s like spawning salmons. I can barely hold myself together. I’m fucking tired.

RO: Maybe a lazy social lunch and a lazy social dinner on the same day were too much?

INCARNATION #1: I’ve missed it! (pause) I think.

LAURA: That FOMO will be the death of you.

CAM: Everybody’s missed it. Isn’t FOMO the lovechild of a pandemic? And listen, we could have rearranged. If it was too much to cram in.

INCARNATION #1: On top of a movie, yes. I think this was a bit too much for one day.

CAM: The cinemas are open, too? Why do I always miss the memo?

LAURA: Maybe nobody sends them to you.

RO: What time’s your film?

INCARNATION #1: It was at half-eleven this morning.

LAURA: You’ve already been this morning?

INCARNATION #1: Yes. The pair of us seem to do enough for about five people. Five busy feckers at that! Even in lockdown the days felt pretty relentless.

LAURA: You probably just need your space. I know you two. He’ll be along in a jiffy and you’ll be hearts and kisses all over each other.

CAM: I can’t wait to see this!

RO: It demands short, sharp bursts.

INCARNATION #1: The cheek.

CAM: Please tell me you didn’t fall out over a film. What were they even playing? I don’t know what’s on!

INCARNATION #1: We couldn’t even agree on that! We had to toss a fucking coin in the Picturehouse lobby. A penny as well! That’s all he had on him. A penny for my thoughts. That’s all he can fucking afford. One fucking thought of mine.

RO: (sarky) How wounded you must’ve felt, that he didn’t want to see what you wanted to see.

CAM: Calm down. You’re only winding yourself up.

INCARNATION #1: Already wound up, flower of mine.

LAURA: So what did you see?

INCARNATION #1: To answer your questions. Most of the cinemas are hosting retrospectives. I mean, nobody’s made anything! And it was something far too underwhelming for me to even talk about. Which I guess…

RO: Yes?

INCARNATION #1: Is a good thing, in its own way.

LAURA: Explain.

INCARNATION #1: It was something I hadn’t seen. Missed it the first-time ‘round. Had it been a good film, I would’ve been pissed that I’d been saddled with a shitty memory of it. So… I don’t really care that it was pretty ‘meh’. Apparently it’s all quite commonplace in some people’s lives for a woman to have sex with a fish.

CAM: Oh, I dread to think what kind of cinema you two were at.

LAURA: I think I know what you saw. ‘Meh’ is a pretty accurate – .

RO: But you didn’t fall out over a movie, did you?

CAM: You could tell from that description?

LAURA: Cam, you have no idea what’s going on in popular culture at the best of times.

INCARNATION #1: No, Ro. We didn’t. And Cam, she’s right. I love ya kiddo, but your knowledge of what’s culturally relevant is written in the pages of those books you’re wed to.

CAM: I will not apologise for those books I’ve married. That betrothal is what’s going to make me.

RO: Good for you.

LAURA: Just don’t let the world pass you by, hey?

CAM: It’s passed all of us by! That’s the whole point! That’s why I’m so fucking happy to see you all! I want to hear everything.

LAURA: You could’ve have already. You could have zoomed -.

CAM: No fucking way. I told you. Hours-a-day of trying to manoeuvre the stop-start conversational hell that is Zoom meant there was no chance I was spending my evenings in that virtual hellhole.

RO: We’re not virtual in it, Cam. It’s still us.

INCARNATION #1: I haven’t told you what we fell out about yet!

CAM: You know what I mean. It’s not…

LAURA: I’m listening, love.

RO: Don’t you dare say organic.

CAM: Organic.

RO: Wanker.

INCARNATION #1: Erm. Hello?

LAURA: Tell us, tell us. I know you’re itching to.

RO: Oh, Laura. As if.

LAURA: Let the poor boy speak. He’s had a tough day.

CAM: I’m not here to talk about myself, so yes. I’m all ears.

LAURA: If you didn’t fall out over the movie…

INCARNATION #1: I mean, that might have been the beginning of it.

LAURA: You think you’re the first couple to have this argument?

CAM: Or last?

INCARNATION #1: (in response to LAURA, rapidly) No. (in response to CAM, rapidly) No. We wanted to see different ones and I tell you what, that’s exactly what we should’ve done. Separated and gone our independent ways for a couple of hours. Met up afterwards for comparing and contrasting. (to an unseen) Oh yes! Yes please; I’d forgotten. Rambling away. I’d love a coffee, thank you. Um… Shit. (to the lady-friends) Does anyone else remember the days when a coffee meant just a coffee?

RO: What are you, babe?


RO: It’s like watching a live-action version of Sex & the City.

LAURA: I hate to think who I am.

INCARNATION #1: (to an unseen) Funny aren’t they? My friends. Let’s be courageous about this. I’ll have a cortado. That’ll do it. (back to the girls) How much caff -. (sudden turn back) Oh, wait! Sorry! Some non-dairy milk please. Almond, oat; soya if absolutely the last resort. Oh yes, that’s perfect.

LAURA: Only if absolutely the last resort… you’re such a ponce.

INCARNATION #1: I just can’t handle anything as heavy as Friesian. It’s like drinking dessert.

RO: And this after how many martinis?

INCARNATION #1: Different kettle of fish.

LAURA: I don’t think anyone’s ever said the word ‘Friesian’ with so much venom before.

CAM: Different cocktail of fish!

INCARNATION #1: I’ve missed your terrible little jokes.

CAM: (laughs) Cunt off.

INCARNATION #1: The good C-word!

RO: Cocktails of fish you’re not having sex with I presume?

LAURA: Ah, yes. Now. Back to the sex.

RO: Yup. It’s the unaired season seven right here.

LAURA: Where have you left him?

INCARNATION #1: (absently) How much caffeine do you think one human being is conceivably allowed to drink?

CAM: As much as will put you in a better mood. I don’t want the maudlin you.

INCARNATION #1: But at least you’re getting me. And just me.

CAM: We always do.

RO: I kinda think that’s an impossibility now.

CAM: Huh?

LAURA: Answer me, babe. Where is he?

INCARNATION #1: At the last bar. It was a boozy, boozy, boozyboozyboozy lunch. I didn’t want him coming along, not now. I don’t want it to be impossible!

LAURA: What, love?

INCARNATION #1: I want you to get me, just me! Even if it’s a squiffy version. I reckon we were merely topping up the levels from last night. That’s why I need more coffee.

The sudden sound of a fart is heard.

INCARNATION #1: Yes. I will not apologise, it’s just my body rebelling. We all give out our own gaseous anomalies. Stay away from the gluten, Cam. It’ll be the frog chorus before we know it.

CAM: Don’t go worrying about my stomach and its needs. Not now. I am treating myself. To all those things we’ve been without.

RO: Good company.

INCARNATION #1: You never cared for the stuff anyway, Ro.

RO: Gluten?

INCARNATION #1: Company. Good, bad or ugly.

LAURA: Which bar have you left him in?

INCARNATION #1: I kinda just want to forget about him for the moment, if that’s alright.

RO: Don’t sweep it under the linoleum. We have never done that. You two have never done that.

INCARNATION #1: No. And we still won’t. Our honesty is about the only thing we’ve got going for us. Where’s this coffee? (to the unseen) Oh. Thank you. Perfect. (back to the others) I’m still unable to decide whether I’m sick, hungry, tired or all of the above. (lifting the coffee to his lips) How were your weekends, by-the-by?

RO: We can change the subject only once we’ve wrung this one out completely.

LAURA: Well said.

CAM: Were the pair of you out last night then?

INCARNATION #1: Of course! I’ve been chomping at the bit. I nearly left him at home. Now that the world’s opened up again, there was too much choice. We almost went our separate ways last night.

CAM: You can’t split up before I meet him!

INCARNATION #1: No, no. I mean we almost did different things last night. Now that we’ve been emancipated.

RO: So very kind of the powers-that-be, despite the fucking certainty we’ll get a -.

LAURA: Stop being such a killjoy. I thought your people were meant to be a happy bunch?

CAM: Exactly! There’s people. Like viscous said, here. People! God, fuck me I’ve missed them!

RO: Don’t come crying to me when -.

LAURA: You’re just as guilty as any of us.

RO: (lifts her PPE mask off the table) I have this.

LAURA: Sitting on a table in front of you.

CAM: Can we worry about the future another day? Can we not just enjoy this?

LAURA: Yes. So. You’ve been tetchy with each other since yesterday.

RO: And the rest.

INCARNATION #1: Yup. We’ve been simmering for longer, really. And this morning we… weren’t quite hungover, not quite drunk still. Straddling the line between those two states, that limbo in between.

LAURA: Hence the argument.

RO: What was it over?

INCARNATION #1: A frittata. That or possibly the fact I won at Trivial Pursuit.

LAURA: This is why I texted you! Exactly the reason why!

INCARNATION #1: I thought you were joking.

CAM: You knew about this already?



INCARNATION #1: She didn’t.

LAURA: But I was going to join them for lunch. I wish I had now! I would’ve knocked your heads together. When this one messaged me to say they were about to embark on an afternoon of board games, I replied. And quickly. With five words. Five urgent words. I told him: back – away – from – the – board. A simple instruction. I’ve played board games with that boy before and had chairs thrown across the room! He’s a bad loser. I’m a bad loser, so it’s like playing a reflection. You had been warned.

INCARNATION #1: I had been warned. I mean, it’s big things from smaller ones. The subjects we find too hard to broach are squeezed through the banalities of life. Like sausage meat. That’s how they leak out.

RO: That’s how we make them palatable.

CAM: That’s your stomach talking.

RO: I’m starved!

LAURA: Hence the two ducks.

RO: Duck off.

INCARNATION #1: Oh, you’ve ordered already?

CAM: So what was it really about?

RO: I wasn’t waiting. I must have known something was going on, must have picked up on something in the ether.

LAURA: Yes. The sound of your belly grumbling.

INCARNATION #1: Can we eat first, Cam? Please. I have beans to spill, I just need…. I just need to digest them.

RO: Pun very much intended.

INCARNATION #1: Tell me you ordered the terrine and the squid, please. Just tell me that, so the whole day hasn’t been a total waste.

CAM: This – us? – would be a total waste if there wasn’t terrine and squid coming to the table?

INCARNATION #1: You know what I mean.

LAURA: I don’t think we do.

INCARNATION #1: Don’t start, Laura. I am not arguing with you.

RO: That would be sensible. She bites too readily.

LAURA: Least I do.

RO: And yes, there is terrine and squid coming, along with a whole deli of delights.

CAM: You’ve been here before then? I really was locking myself up way before anybody told us to! No wonder the cabin fever had started to take over.

LAURA: I told you.

CAM: Lord. Stop me from festering, please!

INCARNATION #1: I won’t let it happen. I need my shoulders to cry on. And I mean shoulders, plural.

RO: Was it that bad?

CAM: And was it really over a frittata? I am, of course, hoping you say yes. Oh, Ro. Did we order one of those?

INCARNATION #1: If you have, it’s all yours. For us now – me and the not me – it is only ever going to be a codeword.

RO: For?

Before the answer comes, RO’S mobile phone beeps and her attention is arrested, though any vacuum in the conversation is instantly filled.

INCARNATION #1: For… a myriad. For the occasion, when the occasion warrants it. We’ll know when the occasion warrants it.

CAM: So you haven’t split up? I would – really would – like to meet a boyfriend of yours, finally. Especially one that’s lasted longer than two hours and’s over the age of twenty-two. It would be cruel – after all this time – to not let meet him!

INCARNATION #1: You think?

LAURA: So what does this momentous frittata stand for? What were you really arguing about today?

INCARNATION #1: You’re not letting me off the hook are you? LAURA: You’re damn fucking right about that.

INCARNATION #1: The frittata will stand for… It will stand for all those kinks you have to iron out, when two of you have come together and creased each other up. Not that I’m an expert on this. I was totally fine creasing myself up.

RO: Were you?

LAURA: I think I’m glad you’re not an expert.

CAM: There are many things I would come to you for, many tips and pointers on many subjects. Not relationship advice though, babe.

LAURA: The metaphorical frittata, then?

INCARNATION #1: Perspective. Mostly. A change-of-plans. Control.

CAM: Ah. The C-word.

INCARNATION #1: Oh no, that’s not the bomb. But there is a control-freakery about us. It’s been there since day one. The information we’ve bombarded each other with. Having to control our reactions to it. Trying to control each other and everything. Bombs and bombardments.

LAURA: Again. You’re not the first.

INCARNATION #1: No, but we might be the most spectacular.

CAM: As in?

INCARNATION #1: As in… We should be charging others to watch and/or partake in this, in our fireworks. Two writers dating each other? It feels like quantum physics is only a molecule away from folding in on itself. I’d make a comparison to black holes but it would only put you on a smuttier path than the current one.

CAM: A black hole? I’m a blank.

LAURA: A blank hole. And I hate – but don‘t really hate – to be the one to tell you this: you are a control freak.


LAURA: Most people, shocker, are. When you’re faced with the same level, the same acute aptitude of control-freakery as yourself: that’s when the heckles go up. Up up up. Way up! Why do you think we hated each other at the start?


LAURA: Jesus, you weren’t that high, were you?

INCARNATION #1: I thought we were flirting.

LAURA: No straight man – or even bisexual at that – would ever flirt in such a manner. In that way.

INCARNATION #1: I don’t remember us hating each other.

CAM: Loathed. It was fabulous to watch.

INCARNATION #1: Ugh! Don’t use that word. It’s so tacky.

CAM: Well, it was! I am also able to not apologise. Y’know it was always the talk of the town when it came to arranging…

RO: Anything.

LAURA: Anything.

CAM: Absolutely, if the both of you were coming along. Small third-world countries are run with less politics and bureaucracy. Still: never a dull moment.

INCARNATION #1: I hated you?

LAURA: It was mutual. Don’t try and steal all the thunder.

CAM: There you go again.

RO: I bet that’s why he isn’t here. He’s gone off to find his own thunder.

INCARNATION #1: It was probably just prejudice.

LAURA: What was?

CAM: Ha! You’re probably right!

LAURA: Meaning?

INCARNATION #1: Meaning?

CAM: Come on. The backgrounds you two come from. Cheese and chalk. And which of you is which is unimportant! Heads butted because the deeper things butted. No smut, please. It’s simply prejudice.

RO: She speaks well.

CAM: I still can. Despite the cabin fever.

INCARNATION #1: (to LAURA) We’re okay now, hey?

LAURA: Of course. Always here.

RO: Blurgh. This is not helping my stomach.

CAM: I’m guessing this is most likely the problem with your apocryphal boyfriend, who I am yet to believe actually exists. The amount of prejudice you, two, have thrown at each other, or defended against with each other.

INCARNATION #1: But I don’t hate him. Not like I apparently did her.

LAURA: I disagree. You’re definitely hating him right now.

INCARNATION #1: But that’s because he was a fucking arsehole, not because I’m suffering any kind of prejudicial mean streak to do with… Any part of him. I concede; we are different. Very. While, yes; being almost identical in some respects. But we’re different like you and I were, Laura. Before we grew up and became peas in a pod.

RO: As if you’d share your pod!

INCARNATION #1: I share!

RO: In your own fashion.

CAM: You hate him because he was an arsehole because of his control-freakery which in turn is because of the prejudice he’s faced.

INCARNATION #1: For what? Being a white, upper-middle class, well- educated young man who can, just about, pass off for being heteronormative? Such prejudice!

LAURA: You’re being a cock. You know what Cam’s referring to.

INCARNATION #1: Yeah. But -.

LAURA: But no diddly-squat nothing. It’s a defence mechanism for him. And I’m sure to all-and-sundry within earshot he probably was coming over as a massive dickhead. But you haven’t lived with or survived or put up with or whatever verb – phrasal or otherwise – you care to choose; with what he has.

INCARNATION #1: You’re making me sound like I’ve coasted through life.

CAM: On the contrary. It’s just that any bigotry you’ve had has been for a different reason.

INCARNATION #1: Yes, and all the while I’ve still never done that one thing. I’ve never C-worded for anyone in my life, neither family nor friends. And they’ve stuck with me.

CAM: Which is why you’ve been grandiloquently single, ‘til now.

LAURA: In the main.

INCARNATION #1: In the main? Single?


RO: (still concentrating on phone) Maybe yes.

LAURA: Why family and friends have stuck with you. In the main.

INCARNATION #1: It’s a filtering process.

CAM: You’re like a male Marilyn Monroe! (breathily, high-pitched) If people can’t handle you at your worst, they don’t deserve you at your best. (normal) Is that it?

INCARNATION #1: What would be wrong with that? (to RO) Are you with us?!

RO: Yes, yes. Of course. I haven’t gone anywhere, have I? Just lapping it all up. You’ll get my thoughts and feelings at some point.

LAURA: You’ve gone into shutdown because the food hasn’t turned up yet…

RO: Actually, I’ve been playing online Scrabble with my Aunt. I just felt like I should apologise -.

LAURA: We’re used to you by now.

RO: Not to you! To her. I played the word ‘whore’ earlier and it felt like I was calling her one.

INCARNATION #1: Words are a danger in the wrong hands.

CAM: In the right hands, even more so!

RO: Which makes you two really, truly dangerous for each other. Guys, I’m hungry.

LAURA: Now it’s official?

CAM: I suppose he’s kind of getting a double-whammy with you? You, the ‘you’ we’re with now. And you, the ‘you’ that is your work. Ro told me you sent him stuff.

INCARNATION #1: Like, after our first date.

LAURA: Jesus.

CAM: There you are. No wonder he’s erected a few barricades. It’s an assault, dating you. You have never been one to hold back.

INCARNATION #1: I’m the assault? Being with him is like willingly putting yourself in the firing line! I don’t know how many hits I can take! He’s the first man I’ve dated -.

CAM: That’s lasted longer than two hours and is over -.

INCARNATION #1: Blah blah blarney. He’s also the first man I’ve dated who’s knocked my ego down. He makes me doubt myself.

RO: I have a sneaky suspicion that’s a good thing.

LAURA: Give him some slack. I will, naturally, be on your side in this. But look at what he’s dealt with. Not only did you tell him on your first date that you’re positive, but you sent him an article about the safety of your status as soon as you’d gotten home. It’s admirable, it really is.

INCARNATION #1: Why thank you.

LAURA: No shame, no hiding any part of you.


LAURA: Imagine it from his perspective, though.

CAM: From his frittata.

INCARNATION #1: I really have missed you.

LAURA: What are we, chopped beef?

RO: The hunger, the hunger.

LAURA: You asked for this, love.

RO: Me?

LAURA: Him. Go back to your words, you whore.

RO: Gone.

LAURA: You asked the universe for a boyfriend. You were both lacking one. And you’ve both been worrying us. Me, anyway. I’ve known you both so long. For which I’m thankful for. Having you in the same city is heaven, I tell you. And I knew there’d be something really special. I didn’t configure my brain to think it might be such a baptism-by-fire. The very fact that you’re each others’ first proper boyfriend is astounding! Yes, I mean that, even for you. Proper. And at your age too.

INCARNATION #1: Late thirties is the new late twenties.

CAM: They’re not. They’re just your late thirties. And in two- thousand-and-modernity it’s still late to be finally getting a boyfriend. Even with all the LV baggage you two have got.

RO: He’s coming around to the idea, isn’t he?

LAURA: He’s already come around to it. You both have.

CAM: Which shows some real bravery on his part.

INCARNATION #1: His part? It’s chopped beef all over the place!

LAURA: Nobody’s putting anybody on pedestals anymore, alright? And I will not let you start right now.

INCARNATION #1: I’m not.

CAM: You are.

INCARNATION #1: And what if I am?

LAURA: If you even try, I’ll pulling you down before the first bird-shit lands.

INCARNATION #1: Fine. Fine, okay. I know. I’ve said it before. I’m not the brave one, here. Not when it comes to my health. He’s the one with hurdles to hurdle over. And yes. Yes. He has done wonderfully so far. I’m proud of that. It was just another one’s point-of-view I had to put to the sword. And for someone like him, in this day and age, in this modernity: to have had those prejudices. Late thirties, smart, gay, an artist. All the rest, you know. He’s exactly the kind of person I shouldn’t have to be convincing. It takes it out of me.

RO: It’s funny we’re talking about this.

LAURA: Hilarious.

RO: I finally watched Dallas Buyer’s the other day.

INCARNATION #1: Ah! I hate that film.

CAM: Don’t start him off!

INCARNATION #1: It’s so archaic. It’s a period piece, that’s all it is. It was back then, too! And that’s why it’s so misleading.

RO: Well, Jared Leto can mislead me as much as he likes. Thank you very much. Even in drag.

CAM: Especially in drag, don’t you mean?

LAURA: Really?

INCARNATION #1: I have no time for McConaughey. At all. I know it’s a bit hackneyed to not like him, but…

RO: But?

INCARNATION #1: You know… When he won the Oscar, the only person he didn’t thank was -.

CAM: You?

INCARNATION #1: Well now I hate him even more!

They laugh in unison, which alleviates the mood somewhat.

INCARNATION #1: This food has got to come soon, for my stomach’s sake.

RO: I’m with you on that one, kid.

INCARNATION #1: This will be my first wholly pleasant meal of the weekend.

LAURA: Don’t count your chickens.

RO: I’m so fucking excited about this terrine!

INCARNATION #1: This was the first time I didn’t save the receipts, y’know. From today or yesterday. I do so, always. Like a souvenir. Fond memories and all that. But yesterday’s: in the recycling. This afternoon’s? Binned. What does that say?

CAM: Most likely? Nothing.

RO: Don’t read too much into everything, hey?

INCARNATION #1: I think I’m going to ablute before the food comes.

LAURA: Struggling?


INCARNATION #1 stands, looking around the restaurant for a bathroom. His hands rest against the table until he lifts one palm up to his face to inspect it.

INCARNATION #1: The table’s a bit dusty, don’t you think?

CAM: I’m usually quite sceptical of dust.

They laugh again.

LAURA: Dust! And hey, will you send our waitress over? I need another. Any waitress’ll do.

RO: As will any dream apparently.

CAM: This is dream enough, ladies.

INCARNATION #1: Send one I will.

LAURA: A waitress?

INCARNATION #1: Either/or. Add another cortado on for me.

RO: Do it yourself.

INCARNATION #1: It’ll get lost in the massive crack between me telling her -.

RO: Telling them.

INCARNATION #1: … telling someone over there… and you lot ordering at the table. Trust me. This hangover is dictating that simple is the way forward.

INCARNATION #1 EXITS. It is apparent from the reaction of the women that as he does, the food arrives. RO is, on the surface, the most pleased but it’s hard for the other two to contain their excitement.