"gradually I've come to realise that my house is haunted by the ghost of a dead astronaut"

Sunday, 31 October 2010

64. Muddy Facts

"The pictures of astronauts, Steph! They are real! Why would people in that house draw pictures of astronauts, only for you to stay here and see dead astronauts coming down out of the sky? Is that a coincidence? No"

[This is a scene from the film version of ‘Nicole Kidman stars in: The Astronaut Dropped’, starring Nicole Kidman in a small ‘bit part’ as a parody of herself, and starring a Kidman ‘body double’ trying to climb the ladder of fame by impersonating Stephanie Fey, a hot little minx who, right now, is covered in mud and looking dirty in more ways than one – though, to be honest, performing in a licentious manner has never really been her bag. In short, everyone seems to be impersonating someone, but how many of them are actually being themselves? Or know what that might be? A question for every day that we’ll sadly have to try and answer another day!]

EXTERIOR – HOLE IN THE GROUND – DAY

The scene is a large hole in the ground, approximately six foot deep and 15 foot wide.  On the outside of the hole is a cloudy sky and just-visible tree tops. At one end of the hole is a ladder. The hole is inhabited by three people: Stephanie Fey, Dizzie Lizzie and the Smelly God (referred to in this scene by the name given to him by Lizzie: Ooph). Dizzie Lizzie is blonde but covered from head to toe in mud. Stephanie Fey has clearly just fallen into the hole; she is sitting on the wet earth and has mud on her trousers and hands. Ooph, also covered in mud and with a spade in his hands, is tall, wide and with dark hair and features. He stands to one side and passively, inscrutably, looks on.)

Stephanie
(Angry)
I can’t believe this! I just can’t believe this. I could have died there, Lizzie, and it would have been your fault!

Lizzie
(Sarcastic and slightly annoyed)
My fault –? My –! Did you hear that, Ooph? Now, there’s gratitude for all we’ve done. Can you believe what you just heard? I can’t! Don’t take it personally, darling Ooph. I’m certainly trying hard not to!

Stephanie is trying to pick herself up off the ground and wipe the mud from herself. On hearing the name Ooph, she looks confused and looks back and forwards between the handyman and Lizzie.

Stephanie
(To Ooph)
Ooph? Is that you? I don’t think I’ve ever known your name.

Lizzie
Well, I’m sure he has one of those proper names: a Brian, or a Jeremy or a … Tavish, or something. But I call him Ooph and Ooph is how he will always be known to me.
(Turning to Ooph)
That’s right, isn’t it, darling Ooph?
(Back to Stephanie)
Well, you see, Steph, he’s so very smelly. The first time I met him my first reaction was ‘Ooph!’ And I’ve called him Ooph ever since. But now he's my darling Ooph!

Stephanie
(Still looking confused)
And … you two … are … an item?
(Lizzie nods her head once emphatically)
And you’ve changed your name to Mud Woman too? What the hell is this, this parade of absolute goddamn nonsense that is my life? What the hell is going on, Lizzie? You abandoned me in order to wander the countryside digging holes and burying cars with a handyman with poor personal hygiene? What the hell is all of this, Lizzie? I need answers. Now! God, look at you, Lizzie! What’s happened to you?

Lizzie
Well, first of all, what happened to me was that I wanted to help my friend. And, second of all, Ooph has been helping me like you just can't believe. He’s been a pillar of very smelly strength and I couldn’t have done any of this without him!

Stephanie
Any of what? Why are you burying Psusan’s car?

Lizzie
Because she’s missing and she was last seen with you. If the police show up at your door and ask you where she is and why her car's in your driveway, what are you going to say?

Stephanie sinks back to the ground again, looking defeated.

Stephanie
(Quietly and speaking to the ground)
I don’t know. That she was lifted out of the house in the blink of an eye by a ghost, I suppose.
(Stephanie shrugs her shoulders.)
The truth of my own imagination is all I know anymore. What else can I say?
(Stephanie suddenly remembers something and looks up at Lizzie quizzically)
Why are you digging holes all over town? Are you burying other things?

Lizzie
No, we’re looking for something. We’re looking for Josh. The boy who went missing? We think he’s dead, but we don’t know where he’s buried. We have some clues, but they haven’t led us to his discovery yet.

Stephanie
Oh. You said you were helping me? How does that help me?

Lizzie
Oh, it’s all related, Stephanie. All of it. Everything that’s been happening to you. Everything in that house. Everything about the history of that house too. It’s all connected in some way.

Stephanie 
(Slightly distressed)
No, don’t say that! It’s not! It’s all in my head. It’s all just nonsense in my head. None of it is real. You can’t possibly believe all of this stuff I've written, Lizzie! Even I don’t believe it all!

Lizzie crouches down beside her.

Lizzie
You’re forgetting the drawings. The ones you found in the files. The pictures of so-called art therapy, drawn by the people who stayed here. The pictures of astronauts, Steph! They are real! Why would people in that house draw pictures of astronauts, only for you to stay here and see dead astronauts coming down out of the sky? Is that a coincidence? No.

Stephanie looks into Lizzie’s eyes, trying to gauge how much honesty is there and how much certainty.

Stephanie
There … might be some … truth … in all of this?

Lizzie just smiles and gives her a hug.

Lizzie
(To Ooph)
Ooph, get the Ooph Mobile! Let’s get back up to the house – we can finish all of this later.

Ooph puts down his spade and starts to climb the ladder.

Stephanie
(Nodding at Ooph and then looking at Lizzie incredulously)
I can’t … believe …

Lizzie
(Winks)
Well, Steph, I was always a dirty girl!

Stephanie
(Almost ignoring Lizzie's statement and suddenly looking deeply into her eyes)
It's not enough, Lizzie. Sketches in old files are not enough to make all of this suddenly real. You're looking for connections where they don't exist in the real world. In my head, yes. But not in the real world.

Lizzie
(Sighs)
There's lots more truth. Lots more, Steph. For a start, can you think what Josh's favourite song was?
(Stephanie looks away and tries to think)
Think. What else could it be?

Stephanie, with realisation, looks up at Lizzie and tears form in her eyes. Lizzie hugs her some more and Stephanie begins to cry quite quietly.

END SCENE.

Next instalment: 65. Cuddles