Digital Ischemia

12/02/2017

Episode 2: Spring

Rotting Leaves — Two people bicker through their history of failure at the end of the world.

Rotting Leaves starts at Episode 1: Staging.

SCENE 1.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Scotland, Gorge Cave; 2022, Spring, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, RAIN PATTERS
FENELLA: Bluebells trail a fresh scent that underscores the promise of spring, prefaces the heavy sweetness of summer, appetises the smell buds—
MAX: You were on shaky ground, but ‘smell buds’ definitely ruined it.
FENELLA: I’m setting the scene. It’s not ready for an audience, especially not a hostile one.
MAX: Rain makes me fidgety.
FENELLA: Are you seven years old?
MAX: I suppose you immerse yourself in the total rain ganzfeld.
FENELLA: Notwithstanding contrarians, rain twinkles, trickles down the glass, refracting our destination into a thousand tiny, sodium glows.
MAX: What about our starting point?
FENELLA: Which one?
MAX: Tell me a story.
FENELLA: I shall start in the middle.
MAX: By all means.
FENELLA: The second time you blundered in to my life you had taken a notion to go away.
MAX: Lovely juxtaposition.
FENELLA: Must you interrupt?
MAX: I’m resigned to enjoy the ride; there’s no point quibbling over your relentless mangling of the facts.
FENELLA: Had you or had you not announced you were going around Europe?
MAX: Ah, we’re then, then.
FENELLA: Yet you had no idea how to leave.
MAX: And this is about me being left.
FENELLA: Since it’s already about you, you can’t make it any more about you.
MAX: If it isn’t about leaving and being left, what’s your point?
FENELLA: It’s about misdirection, misreading; about finding out subsequently that the trip – that entire theatre of foolishness – was part of the deal for your latest professional ascension.
MAX: Why can’t you just say promotion?
FENELLA: That makes it sound like you were awarded it.
MAX: I was.
FENELLA: No, you acquired it: the inevitable outcome of years of manoeuvring.
MAX: How twisted thou art.
FENELLA: Au contraire, my helical nemesis.
MAX: Then you are that around which I entwist.
FENELLA: Like leaden chains, dearest.
MAX: Yes, so, they insisted on Europe.  This digressing is tiresome.  Carry on.
FENELLA: You insisted.  The train was cutting through Belgium, Holland; you were—
MAX: Belgium is a country.
FENELLA: Well done.
MAX: You make it sound like a place in Holland.
FENELLA: It’s a list, not a belonging.
MAX: A list of two?
FENELLA: You were sleeping; I was updating your various reports and—
MAX: Hang on, back a bit: I insisted?  What deal?
FENELLA: You insisted that you would only take the job if it included the trip.
MAX: Why would I do that?  How could it possibly be for you?!
FENELLA: World class manoeuvring.  I liked it fine on the train.
MAX: Because I was asleep.
FENELLA: Especially.  And because I actually enjoyed presenting your brilliance.
MAX: I only had any brilliance with you.
FENELLA: Your breadth and depth of understanding, your conviction, your ability to bend power and direct the course of events…
MAX: I was quite something.
FENELLA: You made my socks roll up and down.
MAX: There’s a sight to see.
FENELLA: Do you miss that?
MAX: Playing with your socks?
FENELLA: Crunching over sun-baked dust without a map?  Gliding through vast snowfields with a plan fizzing in your head?  Stepping from hall to office to ancient monument with every face turned to you?  Changing the weather from a balcony hundreds of feet above a glittering city?
MAX: I miss the way working with you made me feel.
FENELLA: Well, now we’re getting somewhere… on a train.
MAX: I miss, I really miss your polishing.
FENELLA: I beg your pardon?
MAX: You focus on the point, drill right into it, painfully, then remove everything that isn’t that.  Absolutely everything else goes out.
FENELLA: I’m an unapologetic minimalist.  On a train.
MAX: Let us not forget the train!  I hope you’re recording this.
FENELLA: Always.

SCENE 2.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Hill; 2019, Spring, Day
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS, BIRDS CALL
FENELLA: The sun emerges through thick cloud as a galaxy spreads from the pure dark of eternity.
MAX: Lovely. My turn.
FENELLA: By all m—
MAX: I am a singleton.
FENELLA: You certainly are.  With another ill-advised beard. I never had you down as fashionable.
MAX: I had hoped for a more supportive reaction.
FENELLA: To what?  You stating the bleeding obvious?  Your idiosyncrasies are only just endearing enough to outweigh your irritating traits.
MAX: Thank you again for the support, but that’s not what I mean—what ‘singleton’ means. I’m alone.
FENELLA: And yet here I am.
MAX: My marriage has ended!
FENELLA: Ah!  I’ve been waiting for that.
MAX: Have you?
FENELLA: Because that would make you Ruth-less!
MAX: And yet more support.
FENELLA: OK, thanks for telling me, but you can cut out the sympathy sponge.
MAX: You’re being spectacularly unfair!
FENELLA: Perhaps you’re a little poor of judgement at present, but you don’t come to me for kindness and soothing.  Ever.  That’s not how we work.  So, shall we delve into your motivation?
MAX: Let’s not.
FENELLA: Yes, let’s enquire into when exactly this happened.
MAX: Why?
FENELLA: Because it wasn’t last week, was it?
MAX: September.
FENELLA: Shortly before or after I was widowed?
MAX: You weren’t wid—before.  Before.
FENELLA: Could there possibly be any connection in your ruthless, selfish mind?
MAX: I beg your pardon?!  Are you suggesting I…in some way engineered this?
FENELLA: I’m asking.
MAX: You think I deliberately ended my marriage in order to swoop upon you?
FENELLA: Perhaps not, but I wonder if the course of events made things harder or easier for you.
MAX: You are astonishingly callous.  Single-minded.  Always were.

SCENE 3.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Norway, Bergen, Office; 2012, Spring, Day
SOUND: CHATTER, TYPING
FENELLA: Du trenger en tolk.
MAX: That’s what we need!  You come in with us.
FENELLA: No.  You need an interpreter.
MAX: Yes.  You come in—
FENELLA: No.  I will arrange a professional interpreter.
MAX: We can’t wait!  We’re on the cusp of—
FENELLA: The only thing you’re on the cusp of is a seafood smorgasbord.
MAX: Throwing Norwegian about again after withholding is in poor taste.
FENELLA: Smorgasbord is Swedish and, as for taste, your ill-advised beard is a constellation of crustacean…cremains.
MAX: Alliteration expired on you.
FENELLA: Much like the crustacea.
SOUND: MOBILE RINGS
Interpreter candidate number one.  Go away.  Hose yourself down.

SCENE 4.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Scandinavian Arctic Circle, Snowfield; 2012, Spring, Day
SOUND: SLEIGH SCRAPES OVER SNOW
MAX: Is this patronisingly twee sleigh business absolutely necessary?
FENELLA: It’s a delightful diversion.
MAX: Why am I here?
FENELLA: Because I know what you want better than you do.
MAX: It’s not as cold as I feared.
FENELLA: That’s the problem.
MAX: You prefer me frozen?
FENELLA: I prefer the parts of the world that are meant to be frozen, frozen.  This is an unmissable opportunity to meet some folk whose land is changing daily.  This land is so flat that the contour lines, if you like, are very wide.  So, a slight variation in altitudinal temperature affects swathes of snowfield, very suddenly.
MAX: Now slushfield.  Soon marsh.
FENELLA: That’s the point.  I explained it well, but it helps being here.
SOUND: SLEIGH SCRAPES, CRUNCHES OVER SNOW
MAX: Being less than frozen.  On land that is suddenly less than frozen.  Wow, it’s like the tide coming in!
FENELLA: Exactly.  Scary?
MAX: It’s like sleet landing on a window.
FENELLA: Not so evocative.
MAX: I suppose you expect me to do something with this new information.
FENELLA: Full marks.  In your own time.
SOUND: FADE OUT SLEIGH SCRAPES; FADE IN CONSTANT WIND; REVERSE
MAX: That was…worthwhile.
FENELLA: Don’t question my authority again.
MAX: Why do we have to go so slowly?  I don’t need to absorb every individual ice crystal.
FENELLA: Because—
MAX: Because the ground can suddenly become unfrozen.  Not just in space; in time.
FENELLA: You could almost see it as a metaphor fo—
MAX: Hush.  I’m fizzing.  What are you gesticulating at her?  Why are we speeding up?
FENELLA: Safe now.  You’re fizzing.
MAX: We don’t have to go slowly?
FENELLA: Not any more.  Just fizz quietly.  Let me immerse myself in the gliding.

SCENE 5.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Netherlands, Middelburg, University College Roosevelt Campus; 2012, Spring, Day
SOUND: VOICES, BICYCLE BELL, BREEZE
FENELLA: Where’ve you been?!
MAX: Right here!  You’re the one the went—
FENELLA: Don’t be ridiculous; I knew where I was at all times.  Are you ready for these academics?
MAX: Oh, absolutely, since I can read my notes that are on your laptop via the screens on my fingernails!
FENELLA: Hysteria: check.  Sense of injustice: check.
MAX: Don’t try to make fun of—
FENELLA: Endearing mother-usually-does hairdo: check.  That’s you warmed up.
MAX: You need to take this seriously!
FENELLA: Say that again.
MAX: You…need…to…  Why would you think you have the upper hand?
FENELLA: Look up.
MAX: What?
FENELLA: Higher.
MAX: At?
FENELLA: My hand.  How do you feel about summer in southern Europe?
MAX: You got us fired and our passports revoked in less than three hours?
FENELLA: Aye; got the tour sold out and more dates added.  You may kiss my feet.
MAX: That’s quite good.
FENELLA: You even get a week off to let your wife remember you.
MAX: Oh, good.  Great.
FENELLA: I pride myself in thinking of everything.  When the director’s PA calls in the middle of my pancake with capers to queue me up for a quick update, I say ‘how would you like the slides?’
MAX: Smug.
FENELLA: On the hoof.  Just like you’re going to be for these delightfully cosmopolitan academics, whilst feeling calmly assured that I have the long game in my upper hand.
MAX: Mud! Sucking at my hooves! I’m in the reeds!
FENELLA: Quacking with fear?
MAX: Give me peace, woman.
FENELLA: Anything else?
SOUND: RUMMAGING IN BAG
MAX: No.  Yes?  What else could I possibly need from—  My notes!  Give me my notes!
FENELLA: I love testing.
MAX: Why a pancake with capers?
FENELLA: Apparently it’s a Dutch speciality: what can you say when a man offers you ‘pickled flower buds’, alth—
MAX: Never mind!  No, yes: what testing?  No, I’ll have to come back to that.
FENELLA: Go.

SCENE 6.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Germany, Berlin, Street; 2012, Spring, Day
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS, VEHICLES, BUSTLE
MAX: You’re surprisingly calm.
FENELLA: You’re Beelzebub’s coach-horse!
MAX: That’s…a beetle.  Are you calling me a beetle?
FENELLA: You poisonous newt!
MAX: Do you mean toad?
FENELLA: Tyrant!  Machiavelli!  Butcher!
MAX: Ladies, ladies!
FENELLA: You’re the sword of fucking Damocles!
MAX: I rather like that.
FENELLA: What happened in there?
MAX: I got a bit bored.
FENELLA: Bored.
MAX: Your Scottish bryophyte people were banging on: “ach, will no-one think of the wee pools and lochans.”
FENELLA: So you tactfully manoeuvred—
MAX: I found an excellent facility on the teleconferencing software: I pressed a button and an automated voice cut them all off.
FENELLA: Yes, apparently everyone else heard, “your chair has muted all participants,” followed by a torturous electronic rendition of Vivaldi.
MAX: Wizard.
FENELLA: They thought you were incompetent or rude or both.
MAX: I thought they were dull.  Where are we going?
FENELLA: I have to buy incontinence pants in German.
MAX: Thank you for that gift for mocking, but do I have to be here?
FENELLA: Since I can’t leave you unattended for two minutes, I’ll have to wee myself.
MAX: Ugh, I don’t want to be thinking of you weeing your way through my meetings.
FENELLA: Good.  I shall establish a hand gesture so you know when I’m letting go.
MAX: Can I still chair?
FENELLA: Oh, get it together!  You’re pissing away golden opportunities—
MAX: (SNIGGERS)
FENELLA: This isn’t ‘arseing about’ time at nob school!  If the sword drops, you cocky fuck…

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