by Tracy Harris

Setting:          an alleyway in Cardiff, Wales

Time:              present, night

Character:     KEZ,  25 years old


So there’s this one thing I can never confess.
I can’t tell you now—that would be easy
but doesn’t everyone have one thing?
I adore drain pipes
I climb up them at night
slide down them and hang onto them for however long I can
someone sees me. Makes me feel like
I shouldn’t be hanging around here.


Sometimes I follow people around
when I don’t know where I’m going
and they look like they know where to go
everyone gets to where they want to eventually
everyone finds their way.


I love CCTV cameras
they change every 30 seconds
I watch them
try and get on as many as I can in a night
so people are aware of my whereabouts.
I wonder if they’ll catch me
capture me
free running this city.


I love rooftops
look down
from a bird’s eye view.


Sometimes, I think I can fly.
When I’m on the edge,
so close to the cloudless sky
I just imagine
free falling.


So… I’m hanging there—right
on this drainpipe
looking down
at the destruction
below me
and I wonder
if only you could see me now.
This all-nighter has turned into an all-nighter
and I’m past the point of no return
it’s always time to go
but it’s never that time
and time just passes
and lights dim
and there’s this one thing I can never confess…


You want to know my favourite bit?
Of hanging around this place,
this always happens to me
—it’s always funny
—you see them—right…night after night
hanging on the street corners,
they talk about love and lies and pubs and pies
maybe they met the man of their dreams
put his phone number in their phone
maybe they lost friendships, lost shoes, lost control
or they just lost a lover, a chip or a 5 pound note


And you just know in the general course of a night
well, in one night,
your whole world could change
one moment—everyone could be dancing
romancing, jumping, pumping,
perfectly normal talking with real
intentional, beautiful feelings
then, the
whole city turns sour
like everyone is against you.
The road sweepers sweep up
the ugly bitter truth
of wining and dining
of pigeons, seagulls
vomit on bin bags
buskers, salesmen
red lights, street fights
empty shops filled with empty ghosts…

Do you ever think about who was stood there before you?
on that dance floor, at that bar
on every street corner, there’s something forgotten
there are pubs littered everywhere, tramps and
lamps and the street map is a web of contradiction.
But there’s this one thing I can never confess…
I would love to walk through walls.
People often disappear, down alleyways
smelling of stale beer
Some get walled in, locked in behind bricks and mortar
and they only have one impression
one view of that night
which is forgotten as quickly as it’s remembered.
And there’s this one thing I can never confess…

See I want to be that CCTV camera,
I want to watch people all day and all night
from the drain pipe
but I’m stuck
I’m stuck in this one place
to the point of no return.
So I’m trying not to panic, but I’m starting to panic and
I’m thinking I wish life was a free run.
We’ve been hanging there on the pipe for ages
— for like a whole minute—feels like forever,
you know how a minute’s silence feels like a lifetime…
And then they switch the lights on, and everything becomes clear.
The speaker is dying out.
The pubs are kicking out,
the chips and gravy are pouring out on to the street.
I once saw a seagull eat an entire jumbo sausage, must have thought it was his lucky day.
I once saw a guy propose on a bridge—must have thought it was his lucky day.
I once saw a tramp find a half can of Strong Bow—must have thought it was his lucky day.

Is that funny?
Are you laughing or crying?
Seriously, are you laughing or crying?

There’s this buzz happening, you’re out and about
and everyone else is in bed.
You feel alive, feel alive and kicking. Feel like you could be anything to anyone
and you just listen, catch the snippets:
Have you got any fags?
You got a light?
What’s the use of a fag without a light?

So, there’s this one thing I can never confess…
I don’t smoke. I don’t like cigarettes.
I’m scared of kerbs.
I haven’t changed my address on my driving license.
I only eat things that are green
I like to take things
I like to shake things up a bit.

I once ate cheese and chips three times in a day.
Then, chicken curry off the bone.

It’s 4:44 now and we’re alive in this alleyway and it’s just you and me in this mad
old city and we’re so alone, even though we’re hanging around together.
Can I dance with you?
Shall we stay or go?
Can I sleep in your bed tonight?
Wait. You can’t get a taxi on your own.
Wait. I want food.
Wait. Don’t go yet— wait for me.

…and the music keeps coming out of the speakers, every beat the same
everyone is jumping really jumping as if every beat
is their last heart beat


The music follows me
all the way across the city
this lonely place, with its lamp post lights out
has one tune going around and around
at 4:48 someone started singing
someone got helped up
some papers got swept up
and the lights went out.


And I want to join in
but it’s too late and
I don’t know the words
the tune follows me to the train
and everyone else is invisible
no one looks at me, just at maps
and one couple kissing
—they never stopped kissing
and there’s this one thing I can never confess…
and however much I hate it
however much I despise it
when the lights go out
when that last flicker
that last trigger
that last door shuts
that last person gets kicked out
I slide down and immerse myself into the darkness
down the alleyway
and I remember where I am
remember why I hang around here
remember you
and me
how I found your number in the phone book
how I called you out of the blue
and just expected you
to meet me here
on this drainpipe
so we could be invincible
we could be free like CCTV,
and we could be
whatever we wanted to be
and I wonder
how many more times
I can come here
without you.


copyright © 2010 Tracy Harris. All rights reserved.

Tracy Harris‘ first play, Past Away, was produced, published and toured nationally with Script Cymru in 2002. She then wrote Spring Forward, Fall Back (Ruth is Stranger Than Richard, Menagerie Theatre) He, She, We (Sherman Cymru), Swings and Roundabouts (Undeb Theatre), The Exquisite Corpse (WMC, Edinburgh, Southwark Playhouse), The Cloak Room (Sherman Cymru and the studio theatre, Washington DC Fringe Festival). Her site-specific play, No Vacancies, was produced and published by Sherman Cymru, June 2010.

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