Issue Eight:
Calendar Girls

By Max Wilkinson

A beach. Blue sky. Somewhere in America.

We can hear the sea but we can’t see it.

Large sand dunes. It’s very hot.

A girl in a bikini lies centre stage on a beach towel with her back to us.

She doesn’t move or breath.

EVELYN WILDER a young detective kneels above the girl. WILDER is black, short and wears a police blue cap and jacket. Sergeant PETE REKKER stands above the body. He’s in his late forties, older, fatter, white with a Southern accent too. He talks into a walkie talkie.

He squints in the sun

REKKER

(Southern accent) Ain’t even a breeze

WILDER

(Southern accent) I hate the Ocean

REKKER

How can you hate the Ocean?

WILDER touches the girl.

REKKER

(sharply) Wait for forensics Wilder. She ain’t got no pulse

WILDER

No burns neither

REKKER laughs

REKKER

You don’t believe him sir?

WILDER

What that crazy boyfriend by the Dairy Queen? Tell me again

WILDER takes a note book out and reads

WILDER

(reading) She jumped up. Raced round the beach. Screaming

REKKER

And screaming

WILDER

And she spoke

REKKER

All fast

WILDER

Sped up

REKKER

Like ’TV’

WILDER

He said

REKKER

…And she sweat?

WILDER

Like rain

REKKER

But she stops?

WILDER

To look

REKKER

And that’s when…

WILDER

She done it…- She-

REKKER

(suppressing laughter) I can’t…-

WILDER

…She burst into flames

REKKER laughs again

REKKER

That is truly original!

WILDER

Maybe she did

REKKER

Detective. A bubble bursts. So does a dream. I once saw a guy eat sweet corn and burst into tears. But not flames

WILDER

I heard this thing back in Cross. Lady lost her son.

REKKER

He burst into flames? That the case you drove some witness to the nut house? The one they transferred you here for?

WILDER

…You don’t like me very much do you sir?

REKKER

You don’t let people like you. We got a nice town here, Derry Sands. And all you do is look for trouble, like right now

WILDER

Sir-

REKKER

This girl is dead. From what, we don’t know. So we wait for the guys who do. Go check

WILDER exits.

REKKER blinks in the hot sun.

WILDER re-enters.

REKKER keeps his back to her.

WILDER

You don’t sweat much sir.

REKKER

So? Forensics?-

WILDER

It’s funny. It’s low tide. But the water’s like that

REKKER

Water make you nervous?

WILDER

My brother drowned on a beach. You born here?

REKKER

Sure. How do you like Derry Sands?

WILDER

Same as Cross. No crime, no drugs. Nothing-

REKKER

She leave any residue?

WILDER

What?

REKKER

(smiling) Fires leave residue don’t they? Or is that cats? I never seen a body on fire. Or a house

WILDER

Never?

REKKER

Seen a monkey play the drums. This heat’s driving me nuts

WILDER

You never had a fire here?

REKKER

Course we had!

WILDER looks at the girl

WILDER

…Where’s forensics?

REKKER

(smiling) You know it’s funny. Bout your brother. Not funny just- I got this memory. Out on a beach too. It was Christmas Eve. Snow. White beach. Nothing like it.

WILDER

Let’s turn her over-

REKKER

(absently) Who?

WILDER

The girl

REKKER

(angry) Wilder I’m sharing an intimate detail with you, Jesus!

WILDER

But-

REKKER

(shouting) Now you shut-up!

Beat

REKKER

See, I raised my voice? I never raise my voice-

WILDER

Sir-

REKKER

Look Wilder. I like you. Don’t know why but I do. So take my advice. Stop looking where they ain’t nothing to see!

WILDER nods

REKKER

And have a few beers with me sometime!

The stage lights flicker.

They look up

REKKER

Must be a cloud

WILDER

You know I remember? That thing thing in Cross? With the missing boy? The lady? Give me that book…Sir?

REKKER throws her his book and WILDER reads.

WILDER

(reading) Right! ’Spoke sped up. Like TV’. Same words. Then pop. Flames! We thought she was crazy.

REKKER

She was?

WILDER

Three neighbors saw the same thing. It’s all coming back! We put him down as missing.

REKKER

So?

WILDER

He turned up. Three weeks later. With his Mom. Eating Dairy Queen. They forgot anything had ever happened

REKKER

Good.

WILDER

But how can you forget?

WILDER

You did

WILDER

Don’t you see the connection? They both got crazy, they both get worked up-

REKKER

So mind you don’t

Beat

REKKER

Remember when you transferred Wilder? I came to get you from the station? That was nice a thing to do wasn’t it? Eating Oysters and beer at that station? What a nice memory that is? Just think about that.

WILDER

…Never took no train though

REKKER

Huh?

WILDER

I never took no train in here. Or out

REKKER

You ain’t got too many friends Wilder? Or family. I checked-

WILDER

How did we get here today?

REKKER

We walked–

WILDER

No–

REKKER

Don’t you think I know? I know every goddamn grain on this beach. Since that first day. When it snowed

WILDER

It snowed that day too. When I lost my brother. Christmas Eve. Just the same

REKKER

He swam on Christmas Eve?

WILDER

No. Course he didn’t. Too cold. He never swam

REKKER

So he never drowned

WILDER

…How come we got the same memories?

REKKER

Shut up. Or I’ll lay you out

The lights flicker again.

A low whining noise starts and gets louder.

We hear a crash in the distance.

WILDER

What’s going on?

REKKER

Give me your badge. You ain’t fit to serve

WILDER

Serve?

REKKER

I SAID SHUT UP!

His voice echoes: shut up, shut up, shut up.

REKKER

You wanna end up like her? Don’t you get it? Stop looking. More you look the worse it gets.

Beat

REKKER

Ever notice how clean things are in town? How there ain’t no dirt? Or death? Ever feel like you been watched? Ever feel like you see something. Outta the corner of your eye. A flash. A flame? But you look away. Cos if you don’t.

They both look at the girl.

Another crash.

The wind howls

WILDER

But why?

REKKER

(impatient) Why does the sun shine? The sea move? All I know is you start looking at things-

WILDER

(looking at the girl) You burn up

REKKER

And disappear. And turn up 3 weeks later. Fine

WILDER

Renewed

REKKER

Like that boy in Cross. Like her

WILDER turns the girl over.

Her eyes are wide open.

She’s smiling.

She doesn’t speak.

Just stares.

Smiling.

REKKER

But first you gotta burn. That’s the way this world protects itself. You get too close to it. You burn. You renew. But you. Don’t. For some reason. And I can’t either. So instead. The world deletes itself

WILDER

I don’t understand

REKKER

Don’t try to! We just someone’s…idea of a person. Our memories? Our lives? We straight out a movie! We just two big cliches!

WILDER

So nothing’s real?

REKKER

What’s real?

WILDER

your wife?

REKKER

And I love her! And my kids. And you love your brother

Beat

I know where he is Wilder. Oh sure. He burnt up that day. He never drowned. He’s close by. I’ll show you. Remember his voice? His face?

WILDER

He’s not real

REKKER

(sharper) Well my kids are!-

WILDER

The water’s so close-

REKKER

Just believe Wilder. Just forget-

WILDER

I can’t

REKKER takes out his gun and points it at her

REKKER

I’m warning you!

Beat.

REKKER fires the gun at her head. But WILDER’s unharmed.

WILDER

I’m sorry sir

REKKER gets on his knees

REKKER

Look Wilder, it’s my life. I know it don’t mean nothing to you-

WILDER

I can’t

REKKER

(in tears, audience address) Why won’t you let me burn?!

WILDER

Maybe you will

REKKER

No. We’re being punished…for not believing. Together. We don’t get to renew. Unless…we both believe?

WILDER

No. I couldn’t. Not now. Even if I tried

REKKER

…Please…-

WILDER

Sorry

REKKER

…I couldn’t either.

He looks up at her

REKKER

You know I think I never could really. Not properly. He looks at audience

REKKER

That’s why I’m getting it now. And that’s why you–… That’s why I always liked you

WILDER gets on her knees too. She holds him.

REKKER

And so we die

WILDER

Or wake up

REKKER

…Where?

WILDER

I don’t know

REKKER

…Maybe?

WILDER

Maybe…

They hold each other as the the spotlight dims around them.

The last thing we see are their spotlit faces.

A white spot decreasing.

Like when an old TV would be turned off.

And finally.

Blackout.

END


About the Contributor

Max has had plays produced at the Arcola Theatre, the King’s Head Theatre, Theatre 503, Paines Plough and many others across London. He’s collaborated with the Wooster Group in NYC, The English Theatre Berlin, the British Museum and has been part of the Finborough Writer’s Group, The Lyric Hammersmith’s Lab, Arcola Workshops and the National Theatre’s Playwright’s Development lab.

Calendar Girls is part of a series of short plays Max will be developing with Potrvá Theater as part of a residency this summer in Prague. 


Losslit canon

Remainder - Tom McCarthy

I thought of this when thinking about loss because the protagonist, having lost most of his memories and sensory capability in a strange accident, looks to create simulated experience and live in a world of fake stimulation, driven by emptiness and the desire to feel

See all entries in the Losslit canon


More from Issue Nine: