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by Bruce Adams

First draft – August 2009

© Bruce Adams 2009
Pylon 1


by Bruce Adams

(No set characters. No strict location. Dialogue interspersed with and carried
by movement sequences: to this end, the text may be adjusted as necessary.)

(A sense of a hospital.)

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

A hundred machines all confirm the inevitable: another one beaten. They tell
us this every day:


Aids and Alzheimer’s, leukaemias and lymphomas, fucking fucking cancer.

It ate her and she ate us. We came as fast we could.

Stay in school finish your homework she’ll still be there in an hour. She’s not
going anywhere now.

Her parents standing over her looking at us through glassy tears like we’re
betraying them by being here. Well she wanted us.

She fucking well wanted us. Not you two:


You beating ignoring neglecting cunts. Leave her be until you find the lump,
the tumour, the cancer. Then ship her off to the NHS. They can have her.

Rake in the benefits. The sympathy, the donations. The disability allowance.

Flat-screen TV, thirty-two inches, high definition. Sponsored by a nice fat


And you bastards dare to cry for her and tell us to fuck off when we’ve spent
more time here this year than you’ve seen her in her whole life.

“Her whole life.” Completed. Past tense. Done.

Coffin, crematorium, a lifelong sob story. Nothing trumps the dead child card.
You won’t have to buy another round for as long as you live.
Pylon 2

I got Ds this year.

I got fired.

I have to see a therapist now.

We’ve all suffered. We’ve all been eaten.

But we did it selflessly. We’re not martyrs. We’re not you.

Will you kids leave us alone! Please! This is our time! We want to be alone
with our daughter! -

First time for everything.

- You can get a good look later. You can even bring a
camera, you sadistic little shits. Now fuck off!

Sob sob sob cry cry cry boo hoo boo hoo crocodile tears mix with the smell of
hospital disinfectant, and hell opens up.

We’ll leave you alone with your dead daughter. Enjoy her while she’s still

(The pylon.)

The hospital is a big big place – too big for the small small towns. So it’s
somewhere in the middle between the three of them – completely inaccessible,
but equally inaccessible.

The power comes from the city. Over the fields and into a substation.

This is where we come when she’s too tired to see us anymore.

When all the wires and machines and electrodes and needles and drips and
catheters and IVs get too much, and the beeping starts.

“Time to leave now. I think it’s time to leave.” “She needs her rest.”

Don’t want to go home. Can’t go home. No bus. Not for hours.

So we come here. We sit on the pylon. We sit with the power.

And this is the one place in the world where the truth is real. Where “hope for
the best” and “you never know” and “God’s on her side” and words like
Pylon 3

“unconfirmed” or “inconclusive” or “I wouldn’t like to say” or “I’m not

promising anything” mean fuck all.

This is the one place we’re allowed to say it. They mean: Fuck. All.

She can’t hear us here. Our parents can’t hear us here. The doctors aren’t
going to correct us and the nurses aren’t going to smile sympathetically and
touch our hands.

Her parents aren’t going to come barging in and demand privacy, followed by a
vodka perfume.

We sit with the current. We sit with the power. We sit with one hundred
thousand volts. And here – we feel in charge in control understood. Powerful.


Of course we never go any higher than the barbed wire.

But what a fitting statement to follow us around. “Danger of death”. Warning

us, cautioning us, preparing us for what is to come. Yellow sign, buzzing
machinery, danger danger danger.

We can wallow in our own self-pity and not be selfish because there’s no-one
around to see us. Wipe tears, go home, eat tea, bounce into the ward all
smiles, all optimism.

It’s not getting us down. No not at all! No don’t be silly! We love coming to
see you! We want to make you better! You’re looking stronger every day.

You’re slipping away.

Bitch. Fight, bitch. Bitch bitch bitch bitch. Get better. Do it. Please.

Can’t you see through the act for once? See how fragile we are now? Do you
even know us anymore?

We don’t say that. And we hardly ever think it. But when we do, it haunts us
all night.

Take it out on the pylon. It’s big. It’s strong. Cancer won’t kill the pylon.
Metal and wires and a force stronger than all of us. Go on, kick it. Throw
stones at it. Let the anger out and listen to the yelling echo up the tower and
whistle through the lines.
Pylon 4

Cunting cock cancer cunt crappy cunty cancer cancer killing cancer killing
cunting cocking crappy cruddy killing cunting cancer cancer cancer cancer
cancer cancer cancer.

Your bastard parents the tumour. You the disease. We the symptoms. It has
spread further than you know.

When you die, the side-effects in us will go on undiagnosed forever. The

tumours will spread their evil over your warm grave. More cancer. More
suffering. Not medical, not of the body: of the soul. Our souls are dying. You
ate our souls.

Buzzz. Buzzzzz. The power calls us.

To be free, to be strong, to command fear, to surround ourselves with barbed

wire and yellow signs and be that imposing.

We climb higher every week.

But never past the barbed wire. Never past the barbed wire.

I touched it yesterday.

Wrapped a hand around the twisted metal, felt the sharpness of the wire in the

An image of you: sick sick sick, in school, on your knees, crying, crying for your
mother of all people, ambulance, sirens, taking you away forever.

I wanted it gone: I squeezed my hand.

Skin perforated, sweet sweet blood, running down the arm.


No more image of you; replaced by blind pain. An open wound, bleeding

bleeding, raw, maybe infected.

When did our lives stop for you? Since when must we injure ourselves merely
to escape you?

My parents got divorced this year. Do you know that? How Dad moved out and
Mum works all the time and I’ve got a four-year-old brother who needs feeding.
I must have mentioned it. Then you told us your latest test results. And you
needed all the love in the room.
Pylon 5

Weed. I’m smoking weed. I couldn’t help it. I can’t help it. I needed it. I
wanted it, now I need it. Hospital, pylon, home, weed. For a few minutes it
disappears. Then I’m sick. I’m scared that I’ll be on something harder soon. I
might be in hospital too. Who will visit me then?

I’m angry all the time. All the fucking time. I don’t want to be this angry. I
hate being this angry. I’m angry that I’m angry and I hate it, I hate I hate I
hate I hate. It’s not your fault. I hate that.

Grades are slipping. Jobs are slipping. We’re starting to smell. We’re not
sleeping. We’re changing. You are fading, we are weakening.

Every day you fade. Even your eyes seem see-through now. We can’t look at
them. We don’t have the energy. We are too. Weak.

One day we will go past the barbed wire.

A few short metres, rip the skin and then onwards and upwards to sweet
ecstasy. On top of the world, looking down. One hundred thousand volts more
powerful than everybody else.


We are immune to death. We are already infected. So climb. Climb. Climb.

It’s not easily done. As we get higher the lattice is wider – sometimes we
shimmy up a single diagonal frame. Eventually we lose our nerve and lower
ourselves back down.

But we’re getting higher all the time.

Today you arrested. We’d been there five minutes and you slipped away. You
came back, but we didn’t know that until hours later.

We were thrown out. We went to the pylon. We climbed.

Higher than ever before. And as we lowered back down, just a few metres
from the ground…

Fall. Crack. Land on my back.


No more you. No more isolation and IVs and monitors and catheters.
Pylon 6

Just me, lying on my back, staring up the tower, entirely and beautifully
consumed by pain.

This pain is mine. It is private. It belongs to me. I know it’s nothing to yours,
but it’s the best I’ve got and you can’t take it away from me.


Yes yes. Selfless selfishness.

For a moment I even stopped breathing. Then long, empty, rasping breaths
slowly brought me round, and fuelled my pain. I was out of A&E by ten
o’clock, but for those few hours the drips and monitors and drugs were mine,
the visitors were mine, the sympathy was mine.

We didn’t climb for weeks. And you stabilised for a while.

Upstaging bitch.

We love you. We love you we love you.

But you have become a black hole for love.

We will keep visiting. We will keep smiling. We love you. You are our friend.

But you will not ask why I am limping.

You will not ask what the smell on my fingers is.

You will not ask who is looking after my brother.

You are beautiful and full of love, but you are giving up and happy for us to
know it.

In that you have become your parents’ daughter.

Forgive us.

Take take take. We were outside your house last week. Your parents.

Blaming. “It’s your fault.” “It’s your fault.”

Thump. Punch slap punch scream thud. Ominous silence.

Is that what they did to you? Oh my god, did they do that to you when you
were healthy?
Pylon 7

What have you been through? And we dare to judge you?

Barbed wire. Slash, pain, but this time we focus it on you. We repent, we
atone. Sorry sorry sorry sorry.

You are not a bitch. You are an angel. And you are very sick.

We love you.

We told you about the pylon once. You wanted to come here. You were
interested, you wanted to see.

This was while you were still able to walk, able to talk, able to fight. Willing
to fight. As long as we returned you to the hospital at the end of the day, any
exercise was good exercise as far as the nurses were concerned.

And anyway we all had our mobiles.

So we took you to the pylon.

We lied about how far it was. You laughed and joked and bravely sacrificed
your precious energy, but some of us could see that you wanted to go back.
Back to where it was safe.

You didn’t say anything.

You didn’t get it. You looked at the ugly pylon in the green field and you
laughed and said we were mad.

It was a beautiful day in July and your hair was shimmering in the sun. It might
have been the last time that ever happened.

But you asked if we really sat out here in the cold winter, and we said yes.

We’re mad.


Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Beep beep beep beep beep.

There were no monitors, there was no beeping, but we’d seen it enough times
to hear it ourselves when we saw that look on your face.
Pylon 8

Your eyes rolling.

S-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n.

You fell to the ground and stained our retreat with your illness.

Selfish bitch. Mobiles out, hospital called.

“What were you thinking, bringing her this far away?”

Your little dent in the dirt. The Place Where She Fell. There. Like a flag.

I had to fall off the pylon and nearly break my back before that stain was

By then you had faded so much that it was clear: never again will your hair
shimmer in the sun.

We never said it at home. We never said it at the hospital. But we said it on

the pylon.

We are waiting for you to die.

We refuse to kid ourselves anymore.

We want you to be at peace.

Beep beep: “What’s the matter with her?” “Do something about it!” “Do it
faster!” “Make her better!” “I’ll fucking sue you if she dies.” “I know where
you live, Doctor-Onion-Bhaji, and unless you want a fucking hammer to your
fucking face, you’ll make her better, alright?”

What do they say to you when you’re unconscious? Can you hear them like you
hear us?

Are they changing you? Are they remoulding you in your last days?

You resisted them for so long – now with weeks to go they’re taking advantage
of your subconscious to make you a shit smear on society like they are.

Don’t listen to them. You’re better than them. You always knew it.

It’s taken your health, it’s taken your body, it’s taking your life – and now it’s
taking your personality. Your beautiful shining personality.

Fuck this. Fuck cancer. Fuck. Cancer.

Pylon 9

Tonight we are not leaving the pylon. We saw you today and the doctors said
nothing. The nurses did not smile. That is the clearest prognosis of all.

Mobiles off. Candles. Holding hands. Not praying – but there is something
spiritual about it. As soon as your spirit is set free, we want it to come to us.

We want it to be clean. Please don’t let your parents ruin it.

We do not climb the pylon. Tonight is about you. We are low, we are looking
up at you, not down.

The tower stretches to infinity.

Silence. Even the cars are muted. The ambulances float by unobtrusively.

We are with you in your hour of need.

We are with you in your hour of need.
We are with you in your hour of need.
We are with you in your hour of need.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

(She appears and begins to climb the pylon, all the way up.)

(A flash of white. Blackout.)