John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)


Tenby Publishers
Webhosts of Tenby OnLine Literary Festival


Why Must I Starve?


Sion Pysgod

A one-act play exploring the relationship between us in the affluent western world and those destitute in Africa


"Felly dylai'r dosbarthiad dadwneud gormod, a pob dyn yn cael digon"
"So distribution should undo excess, and each man have enough"
Shakespeare, King Lear



A Woman of Africa (One of the starving)

A Man of the Western World (One of Us)

The stage is in darkness. The 1st Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony begins. The screen of a TV, located centrally, illuminates [if required for reasons of audience 'ease of viewing', and or dramatic effect, a back-stage projection system can additionally be employed]. The news is on, a report of people starving in Africa is being transmitted. There is no sound from the TV, only vision. Two spotlights illuminate a woman and a man, the TV between them. She is dressed in rags, he casually. He is watching the TV, she faces the audience slowly scanning their visages. The music slowly fades [in all instances duration of music is to Director's discretion] then she turns towards him and speaks:

Why must I starve?

He turns off the TV, with a hand-held remote control [though in reality the TV will be controlled off-stage] and turns towards her:

I'm sorry, but I don't know why.

But you know I do?



I saw you on TV.

What is ... TV?

You know, well, when those men who ask you questions and point boxes at you ... well those boxes are what we call cameras ...

With which you take pictures?

Yes, that's right. Well, see, everybody has got in their home a thing we call a TV. And the pictures which they take with those cameras appears on our TVs.

The cameras were pointed at me.

Yes, I know, I saw you on TV.

I was in your home?

Well not you but your picture.

But my picture is me, for it is of me.

Yes, but a picture is just an image. All we saw wasn't you ... well, it was just a picture.

But of me?


So you don't really care then?

No, really I do. Honest!

But you saw me starving and yet still I starve. If you cared you would have done something about it. I wouldn't be dying, I would be living.

We're all dying.

You're not.

I am, we all are. After all everybody does, don't they?

I know they do but it shouldn't be like this. This isn't life, it's a living death.

Well, that's what I said. We're all dying. For all of us life is a living death.

But not like mine. Your life isn't like mine.

True, but it doesn't alter the fact that we are all born to die.

How can you be so heartless, so cold, so unfeeling? Are you not human?

Of course I am human. It's just that death is the reality of life. Without death there would not be life.

I don't want to die.

Nor do I.

So you say that I must accept my fate, that I must simply lie down and die?

Well I didn't say that.

But you meant it.

No I didn't, of course not. No, what I mean is that ... Well, what do you expect?

Of you?

Of me if you like.

Well of you nothing for you are nothing for you are not human!

It's no good being nasty at me now. Being nasty to people solves nothing.

Nor does to beg and plead for still we die.

Well that's not strictly true for we do provide some help.

But it's not enough, look around you, we die! Each day we die, more die, children die. We have no future except death.

Well I'm afraid that's reality. None of us have any future in the physical reality of our being. All that your body is is a physical manifestation of your being, of your soul, of your everlasting immortal soul.

So I won't die?

No, your soul won't, everybody knows that, for the soul is everlasting.

So I will live again?

Well, that's what we believe. But if it's true it isn't something anyone can prove.

Then why do you believe it?

It's not like that. I mean really it's not too important since whether or not the soul is everlasting is irrelevant really since if it is, or if it isn't, we've still got to die as a body.

I don't understand you, you talk nonsense.

Well let's put it like this. If the soul is everlasting then it must first lose its bodily form to be released, and being released carry on forever.

Carry on as what?

An everlasting soul.

But what's that?

An everlasting soul.

Yes, I know that's what you call it, but what is it? What does it do?

I don't know, it hasn't happened to me yet and, besides, it's a one-way process. For your body dies into a soul. Now whether or not you believe in reincarnation is a different matter. But it's sort of recognised that even with reincarnation you come back as a different body.

Come back from where?

From eternity, or heaven if you like.

Why do you say: If I like?

Well nobody agrees on what the truth really is so ... Well, what can I say? All I can do is to tell you what options there are.

Why you?

Why me?

Why you, why are you telling me this?

I don't know, all we're having is a conversation. It's not that important really, is it?

I suppose it's not so there's nothing to say really.

No, not really, and that's the basic truth I suppose.

So you're not going to do nothing, you're going to help me?

Well there's nothing I can personally do really. Though, as I said, as a society we are helping through charities and governmental aid. As part of the international community we're doing the best we can.

But it's not enough!

I'm afraid that's life, nothing ever is.

But why are you afraid? After all it's not happening to you and your family, to your loved ones, to your heart.

Just a figure of speech really.

What is a figure of speech?

Oh dear ... What is a figure of speech? Well I don't know really, just a collection of words that express a meaning if you know what I'm talking about.

Like: Jesus loves me?

Not really, that's more a statement of fact.

I don't feel like he loves me.

That's true of most of us.

But you're not starving, you're well fed. You're not a skeleton, you're fat. You're not clad in rags, you're dressed in fine clothes. You're not all smelly and dirty, you're clean. You're not poor, you're rich.

What me rich, you've got to be joking? I'm poor!

How can you be poor if you have enough to eat, are clean and wear clothes? You are a worthless liar!

Now hold your horses, no need to lose your temper and get emotional about all this. Okay, compared to you I'm not poor but I'm certainly not rich. I know lots and lots of people who earn more than me.

All you think of is yourself! You don't really care about me, you just pretend so that others will think you good. But of others you have not a care for all that is sacred to you is you!

She turns away from him and faces the audience slowly scanning their visages as the 2nd Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony begins. He turns towards the TV and, with the remote control, turns it on. A game-show type programme is now being transmitted. There is no sound from the TV, only vision. The music slowly fades then she turns towards him and speaks:

Are you married?

Oh, you're still there. He turns off the TV, with the remote control, and turns towards her: I thought you'd gone away.

You hoped I'd gone away, you want me to disappear, you want me to die!

Of course I don't, you know that's not true.

How do I know that? For all it ever does is get worse and you could help us.

And make it all better, I suppose you're going to say?

No, but at least you could try.

We do. Come now, now what was it you asked me?

I asked if you had a family.

Yes. I have a wife and two children.

I was married.

Were you?

Is that all you can say?

What do you mean?

You know what I mean. You know my husband is dead, my children are dead.

I don't.

You do.

How can I possibly know that?

You know as well as me.

I don't.

You do.

For God's sake woman, what are you talking about?

My family, my heart, my loved ones.

Oh dear ... How did they die?

You know how they died.

Do I? How can I?

You know for you saw it on, what you call, TV. You saw their deaths in your home.

Did I?

You told me you did.

You mean: They died of hunger?


I'm sorry to hear that.

Are you?

Of course I am, anybody would be, wouldn't they?

But you let it happen, you saw it happening and you let it happen.

What you mean ... It's not my fault.

It is for you knew it was happening and you let it happen.

My dear woman ...

Don't you dear woman me you liar!

Please ... let me explain.

I will not listen to your words, you can't explain for you are a worthless liar.

I'm not, really I'm not, I'm just ... I'm just ...

Well what are you? Are you human?

Of course I am, I'm flesh and blood just like you.

My husband was flesh and blood ... my children were flesh and blood ... Oh my poor poor children ...

She starts to cry

Please don't cry.

Don't cry! Would you not cry if you were me?

I suppose I would.

Then why don't you?

Because I'm not you.

Aren't you? For are you not human, are you not flesh and blood like me?

Yes and no. Yes I'm human and I have flesh and blood too. But I'm not like you, for I do not starve.

But you have no human qualities. Have you no pity and compassion? Is not my pain your pain? Don't you feel my grief? Do you not share my despair?

Do you want me to tell you the truth or lie to you?

Makes no difference for you will lie anyway.

That's not very charitable.

Charitable! You talk of charity to me. What charity have you ever shown me?

We do send aid.

But it's not enough! I keep telling you that but you will not listen. It's not enough!

I know it's not.

Then why do you not send more?

I don't know, honest, I don't know.

Ha! You asked me to believe in your honesty. Do you think I am a child? Do you pretend that I do not know the truth of your lies?

You tell me, what is the truth of my lies?

That you never but not lie. That you pity but not pity. That you grieve but do not grieve ... that you pretend that you are human but are not human.

I ... I don't know what to say.

It is best you say nothing for then you, oh liar, cannot lie. For there is truth in your silence. The silence of one who does nothing. The silence of one who does not care. The silence of one who is not human and so cannot speak. And so cannot hear. And so cannot see. And so cannot ... cannot breathe.

She turns away from him and faces the audience slowly scanning their visages as the 2nd Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony continues. The music slowly fades:

Are you there ... I think you are ... please tell me, are you there?

Yes I am still here. What ails thee? Why do you wake me from my blessing of an oblivious sleep?

I feel humbled.

What! You feel humbled! How do you think I feel?

I ... I don't know.

Don't know! Oh liar how I do loathe thee, how I do hate thee. I ... I would castrate thee!

Don't ... don't, please don't say things like that.

Why not? For is that not what you have done to my man, to my husband. For was not the seed of his groin destroyed by your uncaring.

But why ...

But why not?

Well, why should we care?

Why! Why should you care! I ... I don't know. For why should you? True, there is no reason at all. Adieu, adieu, adieu, I am alone, I am truly alone. And that is truth. For my man is dead, my children are dead and clinging to you what do I cling to but a straw? And as a drowning man clings to a straw yet still drowns so do I who clings to you.

Where there's life there's hope.

What's that you say?

I said: Where there's life there's hope.

Where - there's - life - there's - hope. But what does that mean? You are just a callous fool of a jester oh liar.

No I'm not. It's true.

But what hope have I? I am old. My husband is dead, my children are dead. There is nothing to my life but death.

Now don't get depressed, after all it could be worse, you're still alive.

Don't get depressed! I am still alive 'tis true but my life has no purpose. I have no future ... I have no reason for living.

Anybody can say that.

Anyone can say that say you. But do you?

Well not really but it's difficult to ... well change the facts of my life.

That you have a wife who lives. That you have children who live.

Yes, but ...

No buts! Wish you your wife dead? Wish you your children dead?

Of course not.

But you do, don't you? Secretly though, so that no one shall ever know.

Okay I get depressed sometimes but that doesn't mean ...

But that doesn't mean you mean what you say, what you think.

Well we all think things sometimes, don't we?

In truth, there were sometimes times when I wished myself dead, my husband dead, my children dead. But never a death so cruel as that of which they died.

But you thought it?

Yes 'tis true. But I did not kill them. I could not kill them for they are my flesh and blood, for they are my heart.

Well that's like me really. Sometimes I think things but most of the time I don't.

Do you love your wife?

Well we have two children.

Yes, but do you love her.

Well I did ask her to marry me.

My husband bought me.

Well, different places have different ways.

The choice was not mine it was my husband's.

What if you'd said no?

I could not say no. It was between my father and my husband.

I see.

See you what?

Well my wife had a choice: she could say yes or no.

What does that mean?

Well either she married me or she didn't.

Did you want to marry her?

Of course I did. I wouldn't have asked her otherwise.

There is no course about it. Do you make your wife happy?

Well she's a bit moody. But even though the kids are quite old now we still make love.

Is it love for you or love for her?

For me or for her? Do you mean who makes the first move?

No. There was no first move for me for I was bought. I was owned. I was a chattel.

And now you are free?

Oh you are so cold and cruel, so callous and inhumane, how can you say such a thing?

I didn't, you did.

We live in a different land to you. A woman is her husband's property. Is your way any different?

Yes and no. No and yes. For in my land I'm just as much her property as she is mine. I suppose we've both got the same option in life: divorce.

Love. There is no love is there?

Depends how I'm feeling really. When she says she's got a headache I wonder why the hell I bother.

Bother to hell what?

To be married. Sometimes I wish I was free.

Like me I suppose?

I didn't say that.

You did.

Now you know I didn't. What I meant ...

Was that your wife and children would somehow disappear. That they would die.

No I don't. All I think, sometimes, is that my life could have been different.

To mine?

Not even that. There was a girl I knew, before I met my wife. I often think of her and wonder. Wonder if it could have worked out different.

Did you love her?

I thought I did. But ... well we were both so young. I suppose we both went our own ways.

But you wish you hadn't?

I've got to admit that's true. They say you never forget your first love. And I've never forgot her. It's funny but, somehow, I even thought marrying my wife would bring her back to me even though she was married and with a child.

How old were you?

When I knew her, about seventeen. We were at school together. I like thinking back to those days. No worries at all. The whole of our lives ahead of us. We were all so optimistic.

And now you're pessimistic?

Not really. I suppose I'm in a rut. I just don't see no future. Don't see nothing particularly to look forward to.

What about your children? Do you not look forward to their marriages?

Can't say I do. I hope they marry but, at the same time, I don't want to get old.

I didn't either. I was always afraid my husband would take another wife.

Of course, in your society a man has more than one wife.

He does. I was lucky. My husband did not have another. He could have for he was not a poor man. He was not rich either but he ... he was fond of me.

You mean he loved you?

I like to believe he did but cannot for he did not understand me.

Well that's not unusual. I don't understand my wife a lot of the time!

Yes, but, there were times when I needed him.

You mean, you needed to make love?

No. I needed him. I needed his love. I did not need anyone ... only his.

That's understandable.

Does your wife ever need you?

Like a pain in the neck I suppose.

Does she love you?

Who knows. For what is love?

My life.

Love, the ultimate four-letter word. It can mean so much yet so little.

It means nothing at all to me now, though once it did. When my children were alive it did. When my man was alive it did. But now it means nothing.

It never means nothing. We just think it does. I like to think I love my wife, that she loves me. That I love my children and they love me. But do I? But do they? Somehow it just doesn't seem relevant, just seems irrelevant.

Irrelevant to what?

To you I suppose. What difference does it make if I love my family and if they love me? Doesn't do you any good.

Thank you.

Why are you thanking me?

For thinking about me, for considering me who has nothing.

I wish there was something I could do but to be quite honest I just don't see what. I've got no idea how I could do anything at all. I'm just a working man with a family. My life revolves around my work and my family. Makes it seem like a pretty useless existence since just about all I can do is watch you die on TV.

But you thought about me. Have you before?

Sometimes, not often but sometimes. I suppose I'm pretty average in that I tend to close my mind to your plight. But I've got to admit that somehow the way we waste our money, our resources, when you and so many others are in such need makes me wonder. Makes me wonder if our way of life is worthwhile. We just don't seem to be interested. Nobody does. We just seem to say to ourselves and each other, that is when we ever do, that we're doing something just like I said to you. But unlike you said to me we tend to say it is enough. And I suppose that must be true or we'd do more.

Perhaps it would be better for you without me, without us, for then you could be happy? You wouldn't have to worry about me, about us, then.

But there'd be something else. There's always something else. Take my daughter, she's getting on for twelve. It scares me to think what's going to happen to her and how I'll cope when it's happening. Sometimes I really wish I'd never married, never had children, just had myself to look after for then life wouldn't be such a nightmare.

A nightmare? Is your life really a nightmare?

Compared to yours no I suppose but, well it just seems so pointless, so bloody useless. I'm sorry I shouldn't have sworn but there just seems no purpose to it at all. Just seems to be a day to day tedium of going to work, coming home and getting fed then watching TV.

You are lucky.

Well I've got to be, haven't I, compared to you.

No, I didn't mean it like that. What I mean is that you have a choice. You had a choice. I did not for in my land without a husband and children I would not have a life. We have no choices, we must live as we have always lived and now we must die as we have always died.

And we die too but really what you say isn't that true since everybody seems to get married anyway. And everybody who isn't wishes they were. It just doesn't make sense. Nobody knows what really happens, nobody really cares. Just so long as something happens and then we're happy.

And I am unhappy since nothing happens except death.

It doesn't seem much different really to us. We get illusions of happiness but, I don't know, nobody seems to stay happy, I certainly don't.

Were you ever happy?

Oh yes, of course. Different things, different times. Marrying my wife. My children being born. You know there's lots of things happened I can think back on and say I was happy but ... well, thinking ahead, the future should be okay. I mean my children will probably marry and so I'll have grandchildren. Shouldn't be too many worries, by the time I retire the mortgage will be paid and my pension should see us through.

You are a wise man.

What me? Why do you say that?

You prepare for the future. You do not leave it to chance.

I suppose that's true. Thank you. But I've got to admit there was no real decision, I just live as we all do.

There is safety then in your land?

I suppose there is. But how safe no one really knows. We haven't had a war for a long time, well a world war that is, but who knows it could happen again.

At least that is something I do not have to worry about for it would make no difference at all to me. Not now, not ever.

I think you're wrong there since even if we don't send enough aid now, with a war there'd be none at all.

Perhaps that is where hope lies then, for if you are victorious over your enemies then you would have no one to fear and so could help us all the more.

I doubt that, the sort of war we're thinking about would probably mean we'd need you to help us.

To fight your enemies?

No, to simply survive. After the next world war there'll be very little indeed left of us. And our enemies come to think of it.

So there would just be us left?

You could say that.

Perhaps then there is hope in the destruction of you and your enemies, for then we could live in your land?

I don't think so. After our nuclear war our lands won't be worth living in. It won't be possible to live in them since they'll have been laid to waste.

So with your nuclear war you die and with your nuclear war so do we?

Sort of seems like it.

Why do not you and your enemies make peace? Then we could all live.

That's just the trouble really. For we're at peace now but all preparing ourselves for war.

You wish to destroy each other?

Heaven forbid. I know it doesn't make much sense but that's just the way it is.

Yet we are dying.

What do you mean?

You prepare to fight a war yet don't. Yet we die. So are you not in truth fighting your war and our land is your battlefield and our people your vanquished foe?

That's all rather poetical but we're not at war with you, I can assure you of that.

But how do you know?

Well there wouldn't be much point, would there?

I suppose not. Yet it is as if you could be. As if you were.

No, I think you've got it wrong. We couldn't ... I mean well we wouldn't. What would we have to gain?

Our land. For without us our land would be empty. It would be yours to do with what you will.

That sounds crazy, I just hope it's not true.

Why do you hope it's not true?

Well it would be genocide. We'd be wiping out a whole people simply to ... well, gain their land.

Yet that it what is happening.

It sounds like it but of course it's not true.

Why of course? To me it is true.

Well I suppose we see things differently.

Yet are we all not human? True the colour of my skin is different to yours but are we not all flesh and blood?

Of course we are.

There is no of course about it. For you live whilst we die.

I'm afraid you're not being realistic. You're after utopia, one world. Our world's never been like that and probably never will be.

Why not? Are we not all human and so are we not of one heart?

Because life just isn't like that.

I know it isn't. But it should be.

Agreed but, well we're human and I suppose that is the trouble. We don't think away our problems. I suppose the truth of the matter is that we all like to have our own way and understanding that aren't prepared to listen to reason.

You do not have to listen for you can see. And seeing what do you see but our deaths?

Agreed, but isn't it all so complicated? Much too complicated for me to take it all in yet alone understand it all.

Yet it is simple. It is my death. It is our death. For have you not just said that with a war you also will die? And not just you but your enemies too.

Okay it doesn't make sense. But then does life ever?

It does now for my life is so easy of understanding.

But what can I do?


I'm sorry, I wasn't asking you a question, asking myself one really.

And the answer is the same: think. Or do you wish your children's death in your war with your enemies?

They're not really my enemies.

Why do you fear them then?

I don't.

You do or you would not have thoughts of death. You would have thoughts of life. You would think us to life.

What me? I'm just an ordinary working man. Who do you think I am? God?

Yes. To me you are a God. For you are my salvation. For you are my means of survival. No means of payment have I. So I must worship you as those who believe in a God worship him and pray deliverance of him.

That's all very well but am I not flesh and blood, as you so rightly said? So therefore you know as well as me that I am not a God. So there isn't much point worshipping, or praying, to me. Now is there?

No there isn't. Yet, strangely, to me you were important. I saw you as my means of survival. Yet now all I see is a man. It is so so disappointing.

She starts to cry.

That's right, have a good cry. Sometimes it helps to have a good cry.

There is so much to cry about.

I know.

Why then do you not cry?

Got nothing to cry about really.

Yet I cry that you could help me yet do not. Yet I cry that you who could be my deliverance are also doomed. For I cry for you.

I wouldn't bother crying for me if I was you. I'll be alright.

But what about your enemies?

Well it might never happen so it's not worth worrying about.

Yet it is happening here. Are you truly blind? Is it not true that your enemies are here in my land?

Perhaps that's why we don't help you enough then, for our enemies are your friends.

They are not true friends. They are here for their advantage and not ours. In our time of need they merely think of what they have to gain with our demise.

Don't really sound like friends then. Sound more like enemies. A friend in need is a friend indeed, yet your friends sound more like blood-suckers.

Yet they are here.

But do they help you?


Do we help?


But we help you more than they do.

They only help themselves for they have but one God: themselves.

According to them they haven't got a God like us.

There is a true God, a universal god to whom we all worship. And he is their God as he is the God of all. They worship the God of greed and avarice for else why wouldst they leave their lands for ours?

Well if you asked them they'd tell you it was either for humanitarian, strategic or commercial purposes. Perhaps a mixture of all three.

So that they will win and you will lose?

No one will win that war, we shall all lose.

That is not your enemies' belief for they are preparing for it and preparing to win.

Not really. Everybody knows what they are really trying to do. They want some sort of world revolution so that everybody believes in what they do and so we'll have one world.

What do they believe in?

Well that's the trouble really for I don't really know what they believe in, so it's like they believe in nothing. So, if you know what I mean, you can't reason with them since it's like talking to a brick wall. And all they can do is say what we say is wrong, or simply use our world against us.

They are your shadow.

Our shadow?

Your shadow of death for they are your doom. For they are yourself, for they are you. And now your shadow falls on our land too, so we are doomed too.

You make them sound like a plague or something.

A plague of death is what they are for now we starve and they are in our land.

Yes, but you can't blame them.

You do.

I don't. What makes you say that?

You said that since your enemies are our friends then we are your enemies also.

I didn't.

You did. Or are we nothing to you? Neither enemy nor friend, so we are nothing. For is it not true that we do not even exist to you?

Oh dear ... not that again.

But we do exist unto your enemies for they are our friends. For they help us.

Well if that's friendship then you can keep it. All they do is help you kill each other.

And you help us to kill each other for what one man eats condemns another to die since you do not help us as you could. So are you not, you and your shadow, equals in crime: partners in crime? And do you not glory in your crime by glorying in your death? But do you not avoid your own death with our death? For is it not your war fought in our land so that the corpses which rot are our corpses? So that the blood spilt is our blood? So that the children born to die are our children? You are both false friends. Yet worse you are both our enemies. You are death, wouldst be better to cast you away and fend for ourselves. And if we died so be it. But at least we knew our deaths were the will of God and not the will of man.

Perhaps your real enemy isn't your fellow man but God then?

There is no God! How could a God let this happen? How could a God let little children suffer so?

I don't know. Believe me I don't know. I wish I did.

So do I for I find it difficult to have faith in my God. To believe in my God.

Well don't then. After all, all we ever really do is pay lip-service to God. It doesn't exactly trouble me if there is a God or no God. God seems sort of irrelevant from the point of view of everyday life.

Perhaps if you prayed to God to help us he would?

Why should he listen to me?

But at least you could try.

I will if you want me to, but what do I say?

Ask him to help us. Ask him to make our land green. To make ours a land of plenty like yours.

Perhaps that's what he's doing then. After all if there weren't so many of you there would be enough to go around.

Oh you cold callous fool. You are no true friend. There is no point in you praying on our behalf for who would listen to the words of a fool? No one, not even a God.

If you feel like that about it then I won't then.

I would not ask you to.

Well I suppose there's not a lot to be said.

Yes, there is nothing to be said.

Well, goodbye then I suppose.

Yes, goodbye.

She turns away from him and faces the audience slowly scanning their visages as the 3rd Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony begins. He turns towards the TV and, with the remote control, turns it on. A football match is now being transmitted. There is no sound from the TV, only vision. The music slowly fades and he turns off the TV, with the remote control, and turns towards her and speaks:

You're still here?

She turns towards him.

I'm not, you are.

I thought you were going away.

So I you.

But we're still here.


You're still alive?

Of course I am or do you think me a ghost?

No, but I'm glad you're still alive.


I don't want you to die. Well, not like this.

How do you want me to die then?

At peace with your Maker I suppose.

I care not for my Maker. I care not for you. I care not for anyone not even myself.

I know how you feel.

How can you? You are so fat, I am so thin. You are well dressed, I am in rags. You are clean, I am dirty. You have a future, I have none.

We've all got a future.

I haven't.

You have. But only if you take your life in your own hands. Only if you seize what the future has to offer.

It has only one thing to offer and that I do not wish to seize. For I do not wish death.

Well do something about it.

How can I? If I could, I would.

I don't know, but you could do what you told me to do: think.

And thinking what think I?

Well only you know that.

Shall I tell you?

If you like.

Would you like to know?

I suppose I would.

Would you? I think not. For what I think is that you and I should change places. That I should be you, that you should be me. For then I wouldst have a future.

True, but it's not exactly going to happen with a click of your fingers.

But with you dead your land would be mine.

We've been through that. Our war wouldn't just kill us but our land too.

I don't mean that. If I killed you I couldst be you for I wouldst own your land then.

There's a ring of truth to that but it hardly comes into the realms of reality. After all you're halve a world away.

A world away to you but not to me. For I am starving whilst you feed. I know a truth of little concern to you but of great concern to me. For what I know is that where I find you there wilt I feed.

When you coming? I'll kill the fatted calf for you.

Oh jest you yet. But will see. For your enemies have food and where I find them also will I feed. For your enemies are you.

And yours too I'd say.

So, we are all enemies. And that is also something I know to be true. Thank you oh liar for you tell me truth with your jesting, mocking and lies.

How about God? Would you feed if you find God?

Yes, for God does not starve.

So if you found God you'd be okay. Just as, I suppose, we all would be if we all found God.

So where do we find God? For then your enemies and mine would be enemies no more. We could all be friends and help each other then.

In our hearts I suppose.

And why suppose you there?

Well God is supposed to be about love, isn't he?

If you say so.

Why do you say that? You sound as if you know something.

Perhaps I do, perhaps I don't.

It's no good talking in riddles. Just means you're talking nonsense.

Well go away then.

I can't, you know that.

Well you shall have to listen to my riddles, won't you?

If you kept quiet I wouldn't.

But how can I keep quiet for I live, I breathe? Wish you me dead for then I wouldst be truly quiet?

All I'm after is a quiet life.

So am I.

Then shut-up then.

I cannot for I am hungry. For my stomach speaks to me. My stomach pleads to me as I plead to you.

I wouldn't exactly call it pleading.

I would for you are my only hope and I have nothing to offer you in return.

Yes, it's not very nice to have to depend on charity.

That is why I would simply like to take from you. For then there would be no embarrassment for you to give freely to me.

Why should I be embarrassed?

Why don't you save us then? You could if you wanted to.

I told you I'm just an ordinary man.

But you have a voice, you could talk for us. You could plead for us. Perhaps your people would listen to you for you are of them.

Who'd listen to me?

Well no one will if you do not try. As you would not listen to me if I did not communicate to you.

So what do I do? Stand on a soap-box at a street corner?

It would be a start.

But what should I say?

That I have spoken to you.

Oh don't be so ridiculous.

So I was right. You are not only a worthless jester of a liar but a coward too. For you are afraid of others laughing at you. For is it not true that you wouldst be too embarrassed even though my life depends on you? So liar are you not truly a coward too? And think you not only of yourself and what others will think of you? So truly a foolish, selfish, jester, liar of a coward are you. Yet you claim to be a man. A man you? How can you be a man for there is no strength, there is only weakness to you. You are as useless as the limpness dangling down from you!

No need to get personal.

Why not? If it is of no use to you it is to me. A tasty morsel is all I see. To fill my stomach whether baked, fried or stewed.

This is getting ridiculous.

Why are you smiling then?

Because it's absurd, it's funny.

Laugh you at your own manhood?

I suppose I am.

Have you no pride liar? Are you a man or an eunuch?

Well I have fathered two children.

Then surely you should be able to understand our predicament for do not our men father children also?

Yes, but ... you talk in riddles.

I do not. I talk truth. You are a man, you have fathered children. Why couldst you not father a land?

And be its God I suppose?

Do not jest liar. Do not jest to me. Do not dare jest to me so.

I apologise but what you say doesn't make sense.

To you but not to me.

Okay then let's leave it at that. I don't understand you and you don't understand me. We're incomprehensible to each other, so we can't communicate. Okay?

Yet still we are here. And you cannot go away as I cannot.

Let's talk about something else.

Turn your back on me then. Oh liar you are a Judas too. For what else wish you to think on 'cept you?

That's not true.

It is. For if we think about me we think about you. And what is in your need 'cept greed?

But we've talked all we can about you. There's nothing more to be said.

You are Satan. You are the devil incarnate. Get thee behind me Satan. For it is I who will turn my back on you.

At least I won't have to listen to you then.

She turns away from him and faces the audience slowly scanning their visages as the 4th Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony begins. He turns towards the TV and, with the remote control, turns it on. A violent scene from a drama of some sort is now being transmitted. There is no sound from the TV, only vision. The music slowly fades and he turns off the TV, with the remote control, and turns towards her and speaks:

Oh this is silly. There's only the two of us here and you can't speak to me. You won't even look at me. I suppose I'll just have to talk to myself then. Or shut-up I suppose. What time is it? [Looks at his wristwatch] Wonder what's on TV?

She continues to face the audience but closes her eyes.


Oh, what's that about?


Is it a religious programme? Never bother watching them.


Who's in it?


What station is it on?


You're not making sense again. What are you talking about?


Whose death?


The death of death? Ah, that just don't make sense.


I think I liked it better when you said nothing.


You're not going to keep repeating that all the time, are you?


Well if you are I'm not going to talk to you. I don't like talking about death. Don't even like thinking about it.


Oh, really, must you go on so?


For God's sake can't you shut-up? You're depressing me.


Life then.


Death then.


Okay, death.




We could go on like this forever, you know.


Is there no end to it?


I suppose you're right there isn't. But do you have to go on so? Let's talk again.


Death death is that all you can think about?


Oh god.


Is God death then?


Well that's not what I was brought-up to believe and you too I bet.


But God's love, isn't he?


Or was it Jesus is love? I remember singing at school: "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so." And the Bible is the word of God, or at least that's what they tell us.


Are you saying the word of God is death?


Perhaps they got it wrong then?


Or is it that they are death?


But who are they?


But they were only men, human beings, flesh and blood like you and me.


You'll be saying next that the Ten Commandments are death. And we know God wrote them with his own finger.


Or perhaps he didn't. Perhaps we got that wrong too. But if he didn't write them who did?


You mean they did.


You mean death did? Now that can't be true. Just don't make sense.


Is death all that makes sense to you?


Is death all there is to you?


Is death reality to you?


I wish you wouldn't go on so.


Perhaps if I keep quiet you will too.


Always got to have the last word, haven't you?


Oh dear.


Very well I'll let you have the last word and keep quiet.


See what I mean?


Better keep quiet, hadn't I? Anything for a peaceful life.


I'm not going to say anymore.


And I won't ever again if that's all you can say.


I'm warning you.


I'll give you my word and I never go back on my word.


Honest, I mean what I say.


Is death honesty to you?


For God's sake what is the matter with you?


Right, you've asked for it. I'm going to turn my back on you and never talk to you again.


I mean what I say. [He turns his back on her] If you looked at me you'd see that I've turned my back on you.


I'm not listening.


I'm not going to say anything to you at all.


Pause, the spotlight illuminating her begins to dim as her voice begins to weaken.


That's not fair, I didn't say anything.


Oh what is the matter with you?


If I turn round will you stop saying it?


There. I've turned round, now you don't have to say it!


What's the matter with you? I don't see you so clearly.


Are you going away?


Are you sure you're alright? Your voice is sounding a bit faint. Come to think of it you look like you're fading away.


You're going away, aren't you? I think you've made the right decision. After all I can't really help you so there's not much point in us talking about it.


Perhaps you'll find someone else who can really help you.


No not death, death don't help nobody. All death means is that somebody has died.


You mean!


No please, not like this.


I know what you mean. You're dying.


Your voice is getting fainter.


I can hardly hear you.


Your voice is just a whisper.

Pause as her spotlight is extinguished.

I can't hear you and I can't see you. Are you dead?

The 5th Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony begins. He faces the audience slowly scanning their visages. The music slowly fades and as the TV screen illuminates with the images of a nuclear explosion his spotlight is abruptly extinguished. The 5th Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony continues (at increased volume) as do the images of a nuclear explosion until [to the Director's discretion] curtain.







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John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales