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Descent Part 4
by Stephen Clark
Lola: I think it's on the next block. No wait, I remember it was right across from the Victoria Uni building, and there it is. We're closer than I thought.
Warren: *looks at the Victoria Uni building*
Lola: See that building, Warren? That's where you should be. That's where you belong.
Warren: What, you mean doing a course?
Lola: Yeah. You wouldn't be suicidal if you were doing a course.
Warren: Well I don't know about that.
Lola: Education is better than doing a job. It's like, constant metamorphosis, changing. And you get to meet so many interesting people.
Warren: I wouldn't make any friends in university.
Lola: You might. It doesn't matter, anyway. University has a good atmosphere -- it gets into your head, even if you're an outsider. You get to have social contact, of the good sort. The courses are designed like that -- you get to mix with people and watch them.
Warren: Yeah it sounds not half bad. But there's no courses starting up within the next week, so it's pointless even to talk about it.
Lola: Yeah -- I'm just saying, that would be a good sort of thing to aim for if you were willing to live longer.
Warren: You saying that only makes me more resentful.
Lola: Resentful about what?
Warren: *pause* All these buildings that I can't get into. All these buildings that are locking me out. Like the TAFE courses locked me out. I'm angry because they won't let me into their buildings. The only key I have -- is to the only place I don't want to be.
Lola: Yeah, yeah, the keys. *stops* Well, here's one building that you CAN get into. This is it. We've arrived.
Warren: *looks at entrance* So this is it? We just go in?
Lola: *steps forward* The stairs are just inside.
Warren: *looks around nervously* But what if someone sees us?
Lola: Oh relax. Just pretend we live here. There's apartments up the top, you know.
Warren: *follows her into the building*
Lola: *stands at the bottom of the stairwell, looking up* Look.
Warren: *looks up* I gotta hand it to you. This is perfect. I can just imagine myself falling all the way down and going 'splat.'
Lola: *smiles* Shhhh. We don't want anybody to know.
Warren: Nice hard floor.
Lola: *starts climbing stairs*
Lola: *whispers* Come on. I'll show you the private space at the top where you can reflect on your past life just before you jump.
Warren: *follows her, with eager eyes*
Lola: Look at you -- you're like a kid in a candy store -- this place really gets you excited, doesn't it?
Warren: I feel like running up the stairs, I'm so full of energy.
Lola: Yeah well next week when you're doing this for real, THEN you can run up the stairs.
Warren: What? No, I can't run up the stairs then. Suicide has got to be a solemn dignified affair. I'll be taking it slowly so I won't be out of breath when I get to the top. I want to die feeling good, not tired.
Lola: What will you be thinking about?
Warren: Oh nothing much. I'll probably be chanting something to myself -- I don't know what, yet -- something like, 'It's over, it's all over' And when I get to the top -- or maybe halfway up -- I'll put the walkman on and listen to some music. And that will be the last thing in my head before I jump.
Lola: What music?
Warren: Celine Dion.
Lola: *screws up her nose* Celine Dion?
Warren: Yeah. Why, what's wrong with that?
Lola: Well, I mean, it's so -- I mean Celine Dion's music usually makes me want to throw up -- not so much die. -- I mean CELINE DION -- it's just so corny. Why don't you listen to something quality -- like Hindrance Theorum? That's your favourite band, isn't it?
Warren: Yes, but I don't want people to blame THEM for my suicide -- you know -- people see that I was listening to something really depressing like that, they might think the music was to blame.
Lola: Oh. So you want them to blame Celine Dion.
Warren: Yeah. But it's not just that. Celine Dion has this great song called "Fly" which is slow and peaceful and it sounds like it's about suicide -- it's perfect for the occasion. I've already dubbed it onto tape, from my sister's CD.
Lola: Why don't you just listen to the CD? Bring a portable CD player along? It'll sound better then.
Warren: I don't have a CD player.
Lola: Well get one!
Warren: No, no, I don't want to do that.
Lola: Why not? You can borrow mine.
Warren: No, I couldn't.
Lola: Why not?
Warren: I'd feel guilty about not being able to return it. Look, don't worry about me -- if I want a CD player, I can buy my own. I don't need yours.
Lola: But I thought you were really poor!
Warren: Poor? Nah, I've got heaps of money.
Lola: How much money have you got?
Warren: About twenty-two hundred.
Lola: *keeps walking for a second, then makes a high pitched sound of incredulity*
Lola: it -- ut -- wh -- *stares at Warren open mouthed, unable to form complete words*
Warren: *looks mystified*
Lola: Twenty-two hundred dollars? *feels faint*
Warren: Mmmmmmmmmm...? Are we going?
Lola: *incredulous* Warren, do you know how much a computer costs?
Warren: *looks down, smiling* er... at least eight hundred and fifty.
Lola: And you have twenty-two hundred?
Warren: *embarrassed* Yes.
Lola: And so -- if you bought a computer tomorrow, you'd have -- more than a thousand left over?
Lola: And you've been saying -- that this suicide is mostly because you can't afford a computer?
Warren: Yes. *tries not to smile, but enjoys the sensation of being mysterious*
Lola: *pause for 3 seconds* Well then what -- what -- why --
Warren: Oh, wait a minute, I see where you're getting confused. You think I can just spend some of the money on a computer.
Warren: *as if he's about to make everything clear* Well you see, I have this rule about finances. The rule is, that I'm never allowed to spend more than a quarter of my entire savings in one go. It's a rule that I made for myself way back when I was -- oh, it must have been four years ago, and I've never broken it -- you see, if I never spend more than a quarter of my savings, then that will ensure that I'll always have a substantial amount left over, and my savings will never get uncomfortably low. So you see, although it may SEEM like I can afford to buy a computer, in fact I can't buy one until my savings reach -- thirty-four hundred or so. And that's just too far off. I'm afraid.
Lola: *pause* Oh, so it's a ruuuuule.
Lola: So you've made a ruuuuuuuule for yourself.
Warren: *getting worried* Yes.
Lola: And rather than break this rule, you're going to commit suicide.
Lola: So you'd rather die than break the rule?
Warren: *nods slower, looking away*
Lola: *slowly* So you'd rather devastate your family, send your parents and your sister into mourning, ruin their lives -- not to mention all the sadness that you'd cause to Heidi, and your psychologist, and all the other people who know you -- all for the sake of this rule?
Warren: *opens his mouth and stares blankly at the wall*
Lola: How do you think they'd feel about that?
Warren: *just stands there as if trying to process the information*
Lola: Do you really think there's any point in continuing to climb these stairs?
Warren: *closes his mouth*
Warren: *opens his mouth*
Warren: *looks down the stairs*
Warren: *looks upward -- they're nearly at the top*
Warren: *sits down on a step*
Lola: *sits down next to him*
Lola: *smiles* I mean, twenty-two hundred dollars -- you could buy two computers with that, and still have enough money left over for a synth-module. I mean, forget the second-hand market -- you could buy a NEW computer for that money. They sell for around twelve hundred, for the cheap ones. And if you buy a second-hand one, you could afford to buy some really decent electronic music gear to go with it -- a synth module at least, if not a sampler. Plus software. I could come over to your place and help you set it up -- and teach you how to use it. And none of this stuff is for the distant future -- you can afford to do it NOW. I mean, you could have this stuff set up in a week if you buy straight away, although you'd probably want to wait longer than that so you can do some research first. And after you have this stuff, there'll be no reason why you need to stay at your sister's house -- you could tell her tomorrow, or in a week's time, 'Geraldine, I'm going to move out', and you could start looking for your own place, and you could be living on your own within the month.
Warren: *feels a leaden weight in his stomach*
Lola: I don't know why you're looking so glum. This is the beginning of a whole new era for you. The end of the badness. The start of a happy life. From now on, you'll be on the right track. And when the time comes to apply for TAFE courses, you'll be well prepared, and you'll get in this time. And then you'll be going somewhere. You'll be on your way. I mean, twenty-two hundred dollars! And there'll be more money coming in as the months go by. I mean, face it -- life is getting better all the time.
Warren: *screws up his face -- he starts crying*
Lola: *sits closer and puts her hand on his shoulder*
Lola: *speaks gently* Oh, what's wrong? Aren't you happy? Don't you want things to be this way? You don't have to do what I say. You can do whatever you want. Don't cry.
Warren: *cries harder, thinking he is truly alone -- Lola can never understand --*
Lola: I know it's hard. Don't worry -- I'm here for you -- I'll help you do whatever you want --
Warren: *emits a low, angry roaring sound and throws Lola's arm off him*
Lola: *gently* You're angry?
Warren: *distraught* I was so close -- I was one week away --
Lola: From suicide?
Warren: Yes -- and you had to come along -- and drag me away from it -- back to life -- back to the troubles of the world --
Lola: But all I did was point out the obvious facts.
Warren: *stands up and faces her* Oh, you think you're so...
Lola: Wait a minute, lemme just get this straight. You still want to commit suicide?
Lola: And you're angry at me because I'm pulling you away from it?
Lola: Why do you still want to do it? Is there something you're not telling me? Some other reason?
Warren: *looks around with wild eyes, breathing heavily*
Lola: Warren, what is it?
Warren: *frustrated* No, there's no other reason. I just -- I just --
Warren: *struggles to find a reason*
Lola: You can't think of a reason, can you?
Warren: *lamely* It's just -- the easy option.
Lola: Your life can be filled with happiness. *pause* There's nothing difficult about your life. You just make these lame excuses because you want to die. You know what that is?
Lola: It's a mental illness. It's like I was saying on the tram -- you have a mental illness. You're happy and yet you wish to die. That doesn't make sense. When it stops making sense, you know it's a mental illness.
Warren: *stares into space, trying to fathom what she's saying*
Lola: You gotta stop living in denial. No one is trying to oppress you. Not the system, not Geraldine, not me. You're the only one who's responsible for your own happiness.
Warren: *dumbfounded* You're right.
Warren: It DOESN'T make sense.
Warren: It IS a mental illness.
Warren: *shaking his head* I've been so stupid -- thinking up reasons why I should commit suicide.
Lola: Well --
Warren: I don't need excuses. I'm in control of my own destiny.
Lola: *smiling* you ARE.
Warren: I'm going to commit suicide straight away. *starts walking up the stairs*
Lola: What? No, wait, that's not what I -- *follows him* -- Warren, hang on --
Warren: *marches on* No waiting! It ends tonight!
Lola: *panicky* WARREN! Will you just -- why TONIGHT? What happened to waiting till next week?
Warren: *over his shoulder* Forget the week. I'm doing it now. 'Cause I know if I wait a week, I'll spend the week thinking about what you've said and I'll decide not to do it. I've got to do it NOW, before I lose my nerve.
Lola: *struggling to keep up* But don't you see, you --
Warren: *running up the stairs* This is all I want, Lola. Anything that stops me from committing suicide is undesirable. If you're against my suicide, then you are my enemy.
Lola: But what about your family? Your parents?
Warren: They are all my enemies! I'm defying them! Tonight!
Lola: You're drunk! You're not thinking straight!
Warren: *reaches top of the stairs* Well, if thinking straight means continued life, then I've been doing too much of it. *starts to mount railing*
Lola: Wait! We were going to do it together, remember? The suicide pact? We have to jump together. Just wait for me while I climb up on the railing beside you.
Warren: *sits on the wooden railing -- eyes Lola suspiciously*
Lola: *climbs onto railing and dangles her legs into the void*
Warren: Well? Shall we go?
Lola: *shuffles closer to him* Warren, before we jump, I just want to say -- you've been a good friend to me -- I've enjoyed your company -- we've seen a lot of ups and downs and you've taught me a thing or two -- and with this suicide pact I hope our friendship will be set in stone -- I mean, I know I haven't come to visit you very often, 'cause there's always been one thing or another, and for that I'm sorry. I'd really liked to have spent more time with you -- it's a shame it has to end so early, but I guess -- I mean, I know we never got to be more than friends -- maybe if we'd had a little more time, our friendship would have developed into something more -- but it's over now and there's no point in wondering what might have happened. One thing I do regret, though, is that I never got to kiss you. I've often thought about it. So before we go down together, I'd like to kiss you. Just once. O.K.?
Warren: *thinks about it* O.K. go ahead and do it. Then we jump.
Lola: O.K. *shuffles closer to him* I'm going to kiss you. But before I do, I'd just like to say -- it really is beautiful up here, isn't it?
Warren: What beautiful? It's a stairwell.
Lola: But it's very well lit, I think. This stairwell is a great place to be. What time is it?
Warren: *glances at his watch* About half-past two.
Lola: That's important. That we know the time of death. I don't know why. But y'know what would be cool? If we could stay here all night. Not on the railing, maybe, but next to it. And then in the morning, when the shops open up, we could go down to JB hi-fi in Elizabeth Street and pick up some CDs. Y'know? Some really cool CDs. You could buy, like, fifty of them and blow your entire life savings. And then you could take them home and listen to them -- you could spend the whole week listening to your brand new CDs -- and at the end of the week you could come back here and commit suicide. You'd have no money left, so there'd be no reason to stay alive. Isn't that a good plan?
Warren: It's kind of a good plan, but with one major drawback -- it doesn't result in me dying tonight.
Lola: Oh well. I'm going to kiss you now, and then we can jump. Actually -- *thinks very hard* you know what would be cool?
Lola: If we could just stay here.
Warren: That wouldn't be cool.
Lola: Well, not HERE, exactly, but -- in the city. You could hang out in the city for a while, and -- just stay here. No one would know where you are, not even me. So you could commit suicide any time you want. Didn't you say earlier that it would be cool to homeless for a while?
Warren: *doubtfully* yeah --
Lola: Well you could fulfill that dream before you die, and -- and you wouldn't have to struggle to find food like those other homeless people, because you'd be starving yourself.
Warren: Would I?
Lola: Yeah! No point in eating when you don't want to live -- you could even starve yourself to death! That would be a form of suicide, right? And you could live on the streets till your death.
Warren: But it wouldn't work. Someone would find me and take me to hospital or something. They'd revive me.
Lola: But that would be cool in itself -- being revived in hospital -- and -- and -- you could tell them you're just going to go back to starving yourself after they let you go!
Warren: But that would just land me back in the nut house.
Lola: But that would be cool!
Warren: It wouldn't be cool at all.
Lola: Yes it would, because -- because -- you could tell them -- that you're going to keep starving yourself until you get a pension -- and you'd be on a hunger strike until you get a pension -- and then they'd HAVE to give you a pension.
Warren: Well that's -- that's --
Lola: That's cool! You'd be sticking up for your rights as a mentally ill person! And you'd get lots of pension money! So you'd be able to afford a computer without breaking your one-quarter-of-savings rule. And when Geraldine comes to visit, you could tell her that this whole thing was because you don't like living with her. And then she'd SUGGEST to you that you move out, and she'd help you find a new place to live.
Warren: *remains silent*
Lola: So then you'd have everything you want.
Warren: Well that's -- that might work.
Lola: *hopefully* Yeah?
Warren: Actually that's not a bad plan at all. *looks at the floor behind him* I wouldn't even have to...
Sleepy Man: *comes out from a door behind them -- annoyed* Hey! What's going on here? What are you doing?
Lola: *startled* DON'T COME ANY CLOSER! OR WE'LL JUMP!
Sleepy Man: Whaa -- ?
Lola: *threatening* Stay away! We're both seriously suicidal!
Sleepy Man: Don't jump --
Lola: Well just go back from that door you came from, and leave us alone!
Sleepy Man: Why are you doing this? What's wrong?
Lola: Just mind your own business and go away!
Sleepy Man: *backing away* You should talk to someone first -- just wait a bit -- you should --
Lola: Get back inside!
Sleepy Man: *goes back into his apartment*
Lola: Friggin' nosy parker.
Warren: Why did you tell him we were suicidal?
Lola: I was just trying to scare him off. He was obviously here to complain about the noise.
Warren: Do you think he'll call someone now? Like the police?
Lola: *thinks a bit* Maybe. But that's nothing to worry about.
Warren: No. I guess not. I mean, we can easily jump before they get here.
Lola: *thinks a bit more* Do you really want to do that? What about the plan I outlined to you?
Warren: I don't feel like running into the police on the way out. They'll start questioning us.
Lola: Well I can field any questions they throw at us. I mean, we haven't committed any crime.
Warren: But what if they want to hold us in custody? Like if they think we're a danger to ourselves?
Lola: *pauses* Well, I guess -- *brightens up* hey, you know what would be cool?
Lola: If we just stay here -- and let them find us -- and then they take us away to psychiatric hospital for a while.
Warren: That wouldn't be cool. I've totally had it up to here with psychiatric hospitals.
Lola: But then you could demand to get a pension -- say you'll go on a hunger strike if they release you without giving you a pension -- and then you could bypass the whole homelessness bit and get your pension faster.
Warren: *shakes his head*
Lola: Why not?
Warren: It wouldn't be worth it.
Lola: But why not?
Warren: *shakes his head* So much struggling against the system -- so much effort -- so much embarrassment --
Lola: It wouldn't be effort. It would be passive resistance.
Warren: *looks down into the void* so much easier to just let go right here and now --
Lola: *scared* You know what would be even easier?
Lola: Not letting go right here and now. It takes effort from the arms to push yourself off the edge. Just let your arm muscles relax.
Warren: But so little effort -- from the arms -- and in return, I get an eternity of relaxation.
Lola: But it's the same principle with the psychiatric hospital -- you get taken to it, and it's unpleasant for a little while, but after you get discharged, you get a long life full of -- whatever. Happiness.
Warren: I don't want that.
Lola: You don't want happiness?
Warren: I don't want life. Stop it. Just stop arguing. Words are all useless.
Lola: *feels like she's going to cry*
Warren: I'm going to jump now.
Lola: But you can't jump yet! I haven't kissed you yet!
Warren: Well you'd better kiss me soon. 'Cause if you delay it much longer, then I'm just going to jump w --
Warren: Sshh. I can hear someone down below.
Lola: *listens* Surely it can't be the police -- it's too soon.
Lola: Probably just another resident coming home late.
Warren: No, it's two policemen. I can see them.
Lola: Let's get off the railing.
Warren: It's too late. They've seen us.
Max the policeman: *calls up to them* STAY THERE -- JUST RELAX -- SOMEONE IS COMING UP TO YOU --
Warren: Tell them to stay away or we'll jump.
Lola: STAY AWAY OR WE'LL JUMP!
James the policeman: *hurries up the stairs* DON'T JUMP! I JUST WANT TO TALK TO YOU --
Lola: I'M WARNING YOU! WE'RE BOTH ON THE EDGE!
James: *still climbing, talking upwards to them* What are your names?
Lola: Never MIND what our names are!
James: My name is James. This is Max. We don't wanna hurt you --
Lola: Well STAY AWAY then!
James: I'm not gonna come all the way up --
Lola: You're gonna try and catch us, aren't you?
James: No I'm not -- I just want to talk to you --
Lola: Well you won't be able to stop us.
James: Why are you doing this?
Lola: 'Cause life sucks!
Max: Keep them talking --
James: How old are you?
Lola: I'm twenty-three. He's nineteen.
James: Why do you think life sucks?
Lola: 'Cause -- 'cause life -- it -- oh, look, you're wasting your breath on me. It's him you should be talking to.
James: What's his name?
James: *pauses in his climbing* Warren? Can you hear me?
James: You haven't said much yet, have you?
Warren: *tired* no --
James: What are you doing on the edge, Warren?
Warren: I've got to kill myself.
James: What makes you think you've got to kill yourself?
Warren: 'Cause the whole world is against me.
James: Oh come on -- the whole world? That sounds like a bit of an exaggeration.
Warren: Everyone is. You are. He is. You're coming to take me away.
James: No, no, I just want to talk.
Lola: Warren doesn't like to talk.
James: Well maybe you should let him speak for himself.
Warren: It makes no difference anyway.
James: *resumes his climbing* Warren -- whose idea was it to do this, yours or hers?
Lola: It was HIS idea, officer -- I didn't even want to do it!
James: Is that true, Warren?
Warren: Yes! She's been trying to talk me out of it all night!
Lola: That's true, man -- I've been trying to talk him out of it and I've had no success! I know him really well! You don't know him at all so you have no hope of talking him out of it! You're wasting your time with all this!
James: Well if you don't want him to jump, then tell me why you're sitting up there with him, threatening to jump as well.
Lola: *fighting back tears* well I may as well jump -- if he does --
James: No one has to jump tonight -- we can all come down the usual way --
Warren: Not if it means going to the nut-house afterwards.
James: *rounding the last turn* Is THAT what you're afraid of? We don't have to take you to the looney bin -- I can just drop you off home.
Warren: I'm not going home either. *angrily* Don't come any closer! I'm gonna jump! *tenses his wrists*
James: Don't worry -- I'm not going to touch you -- I'll just sit back here where I can't reach you *sits down on the top step* So whereabouts do you live, Warren?
James: Do you two live together? Are you --
Lola: He lives with his sister. I live in Fitzroy. He wouldn't want to live with me. He doesn't like me. *starts sobbing* I'm his enemy. It was me who led him up here -- it was all my fault --
Warren: It wasn't your fault.
Lola: *through tears* Yes it was. You'd be at home asleep right now if it weren't for me. And you probably would've got the pension too if I hadn't been here to mess things up.
Warren: What are you talking about.
James: What do you do, Warren? Do you have a job?
Warren: I don't do anything.
Lola: Oh what's the use.
James: *pauses for five seconds* What do you mean, you don't do anything? You must do something.
Warren: It doesn't make any difference.
James: Are you looking for a job?
Lola: *angry* He's been looking for a job for six months! He's totally lost hope!
James: But that's no reason to take your own life.
Lola: Warren, look at me.
Warren: *turns to face Lola*
Lola: I had fun tonight. *kisses him on the lips*
Warren: *feels lightheaded*
Lola: *hangs her head and starts crying again*
James: *looks down the stairs, distracted by thoughts of his wife*
Warren: *props himself up onto his arms*
Warren: *rests his feet against the bottom of the railing*
James: *suddenly realises what's happening and leaps to his feet*
Warren: *lets go*
James: *dashes across to Warren -- reaches out and tries to catch him -- reaches too far over the railing*
James: *falls onto other side of railing but holds on*
Max: *despairing* NO!
Warren: *lands and breaks his neck*
James: *drags himself back to safety*
Max: *shocked* oh NO!
James: *panicked* What happened? Did they both go over?
Max: *sadly* Both? Only one of them fell.
James: Where's the other one? I can't see her!
James: *looks around* she's gone!
Max: Who's gone?