Tim Marks
Playwright

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"One of the most pleasant surprises of the theatrical year."


"I was never to initiate a conversation, I was never to talk about my religion, I was never to look up when they entered a room, I was to make neither demands or requests. I was to know that my future lay in the hands of Allah and I was to be grateful for that."

 

locating the plant | pearldivers | eve's barette | the judas ballot | the cleric | the naz

the english crew | the tradition

An Excerpt from The Tradition, by Tim Marks

© 2004 Tim Marks. All rights reserved.

EXT. 8:15PM. DETECTIVE KEVIN RICHARDS STANDS ON THE DOORSTEP OF JESSICA NORTHAM'S TOWNHOUSE. HE RINGS THE BELL, AND A MOMENT LATER JESSICA ANSWERS. SHE IS WEARING A HIGH NECKED VICTORIAN NIGHTGOWN COVERED BY A HEAVY WOOLEN ROBE.

Jessica

Can I help you?

Kevin

Hi, I'm Detective Richards, we met this morning.

Jessica

Yes. I'm sorry I didn't recognise you. There have been so many people today.

Kevin

Have the press been out here?

Jessica

Yes. Natalie finally gave them a statement and they left a few hours ago. I should call her if you want to question me.

Kevin

That would be fine, but I'm here more about the Tradition than today's events.

Jessica

I don't understand.

Kevin

I'm kind of a history nut. The Tradition is a fantastic story. I'm just interested in getting your perspective on it.

Jessica

Are you writing a book?

Kevin

No. I have enough trouble just getting police reports written. I'll sign something to say I've no interest in using what you tell me to profit. How does that sound?

Jessica

You should come in.

He enters the living room, which is a throwback to Victorian times. Heavy mahogany furniture dominates. Two armchairs and a high back couch, all in wood and red velvet. There are wooden plant stands supporting well cared for plants. There are antimacassars on the arms of all the chairs. A large Victorian sideboard dominates one wall. On this are a variety of pictures, including Jessica's mother in a colour print, her grandmother in a black and white print, and her great grandmother in a sepia tone print. The only thing out of place is a 32 inch TV.

Jessica

I was making some tea, would you like some?

Kevin

That would be nice. Where did you buy all the antiques?

Jessica

They were handed down from my mother and grandmother. They have been in the family a long time. I inherited them because Nat was not that interested in "old stuff". Let me get that tea.

She leaves the room. Kevin looks around but does not touch anything. Jessica calls from the kitchen.

Jessica

Would you like a sandwich? I have some ham and French bread from the Bakery.

Kevin

If it's no trouble...

Jessica

Feel free to watch television if you want. Hitler's Henchmen comes on in ten minutes.

Kevin finds a remote and points it at the TV. He switches it on and flips through channels.

Kevin

You have all the premium channels.

Jessica

Yes, I'd be lost without the television.

She enters the room with a tray. On it are a plate of sandwiches, a teapot covered with a tea cosy, and two fine china cups.

Kevin

Wow! I was expecting a to go cup.

Jessica

I thought you had some questions. I can get one if you want.

She heads for the door.

Kevin

I was joking. I'm sorry. This looks great. I can't remember the last time I drank from a china cup.

Jessica

I only do it for guests.

Kevin

What's that on top of the teapot?

Jessica

A teacosy, it keeps the tea warm until you pour it. Do you want anything in your tea?

Kevin

Black is fine, thanks. When did you start being the Tradition?

Jessica

About ten years ago, but I'd been with my mother before that. She got sick, so I took over.

Kevin

Does your sister ever do it?

Jessica

No. Natalie doesn't... well, she doesn't like the Tradition. She thinks it glorifies the dead.

Kevin

And you?

Jessica

I do it because my mother said I should. I believe you should obey your elders.

Kevin

Even when it causes problems for you?

Jessica

It has been an inconvenience, but there was never a problem before now.

Kevin

Did the press know who you were before you were exposed?

Jessica

It wouldn't have been hard to find out. I think they just saw it as a cute local custom, and decided to leave it alone. Have your sandwich.

On the TV a blurb comes on for the History Channel, followed by the intro to Hitler's Henchmen.

Kevin

I forgot this was on tonight.

Jessica

I love history. I like the sense of already knowing what's happened.

Kevin

So you don't like surprises then?

Jessica

No.

Kevin

How is all that's happening affecting you?

Jessica

I'm afraid. Who ever did this to those people might blame me, and seek revenge.

Kevin

If you're really worried I could arrange...

Jessica

I'm afraid most of the time about one thing and another. This will be all right. I guess if they wanted me they could have got me first.

She stares at the TV. Kevin turns the volume up with the remote.

Jessica

You don't have to do that, I can watch it another night.

Kevin

I guess there's not much I can think of to ask you. I should be going and let you watch your program.

Jessica

Did you want to watch it?

Kevin

I shouldn't impose.

Jessica

The television will be on anyway. Why don't you take your coat off and sit down?

CUT TO:
INT. 1:20AM JESSICA'S HOUSE. KEVIN IS ASLEEP ON THE SOFA. JESSICA SITS AT HIS FEET WATCHING A MUTED TV. KEVIN WAKES WITH A START.

Kevin

God! I fell asleep. I can't believe you let me sleep!

Jessica

It's alright.

Kevin

No it's not! You don't understand, I'm a cop. This wasn't a social call.

Kevin turns his neck awkwardly and winces. Jessica stands up and goes behind him. She massages his neck as though it's the most natural thing on earth.

Kevin

Whoa! You shouldn't be doing that.

Jessica

My mother used to fall asleep on that sofa all the time while watching TV. This used to help her. I didn't mean to upset you.

Kevin

It's not upsetting. It's just kind of weird.

Jessica

It feels weird?

Kevin

Oh no. It feels great. So great in fact you have to stop now.

Jessica stops. Kevin tries rotating his neck.

Kevin

That feels great, thank you. Why were you sitting on the floor with the volume off on the TV?

Jessica

I didn't want to disturb you. Can I get you something? Tea or coffee?

Kevin

No I have to go. Listen I'm sorry I got angry. I just feel so stupid.

Jessica

There's no need. I taped the program, do you want it?

Kevin

What? Oh sure.

Jessica

I have a spare bed if you don't feel like driving.

Kevin

I have to go.

Jessica

Will you come back?

Kevin

I'm sorry?

Jessica

Will you come and visit again?

Kevin

I don't have any more questions.

Jessica

I understand. The next part of the program is on at 9 tomorrow night. I hope you get to watch it.

Sitting back on the floor she takes a tape out of the VCR and hands it to Kevin. He takes it and picks up his coat.

Kevin

Will you be alright? Not too afraid?

Jessica

No. Being afraid doesn't scare me.

They laugh. Kevin holds out his hand to help her up. They stand face to face.

Jessica

If this had been a date I could say I had a lovely time.

Kevin

If this was a date I was asleep for most of it. Did I miss much?

Jessica

Nothing you can't catch up on.

Kevin gently touches her face.

Kevin

As much as I want to I can't do this.

Jessica

I'll follow your lead and do what ever you say you want me to do.

Kevin

I think you should get some sleep. You have to be up early. Those cookies won't bake themselves.

Jessica

Drive carefully.

She leans into him and kisses him gently on the lips. He strokes her arm gently, but barely reacts to the kiss.

Kevin

Now I know I have to go.