Falling in One Act

Creative writing submission from the Rest Less community – submit your entry here.

Falling in One Act

Have you ever tried to help someone in distress, only to find that they don’t really need your help, and that it is you that is getting into trouble?

A policeman comes across a man about to jump off a bridge, and as they begin to talk the boundaries blur about who is helping who, who is control, and who is falling.

It becomes an allegory of the fall of authority and of the redemption of the fallen.

This is a suspense with nod towards the style of Waiting for Godot.

Cast of Characters

Jonah ClementsAn accountant
Sergeant HillPolice Officer

 

Scene

A Bridge over a river gorge.

Time

Early evening

ACT I

Scene 1

EXTERIOR

The stage consists of a high level bridge across a river valley. The bridge has a solid wall with a narrow parapet on the outside on which characters can rest their feet.

CURTAIN UP

// As lights rise, JONAH CLEMENTS can be seen holding on to the outside of the bridge wall as if about to jump. A lone police officer, SERGEANT HILL is on the bridge a little distance away //

SERGEANT HILL

// to radio // Jumper in sight. Am proceeding to the scene.

Assistance not required at the present time // Sergeant Hill cautiously approaches the figure on the bridge wall // Are you all right sir?

JONAH CLEMENTS

Is this what people who are “alright” do?

SERGEANT HILL

Can I be of any assistance, Sir? // moving a little closer //

JONAH CLEMENTS

// moves away and loses hand hold for a second, and scrambles to grab the bridge. Steadies himself // 

Assistance is too late I am afraid.

SERGEANT HILL

Do you mind if we talk for a moment while you compose yourself?

JONAH CLEMENTS

Talk away. I know it’s your job to do that.

Carry on.

SERGEANT HILL

Well, what is this all about? Why are you holding onto the edge of the bridge in this cold air? // SERGEANT HILL moves a little closer, he is now leaning over the bridge wall //

JONAH CLEMENTS

Is that trying to get me to talk, or to let go of the bridge?

SERGEANT HILL

// startles // No, no, don’t jump.

JONAH CLEMENTS

You want me to talk then? OK. I am just a public-minded citizen like you, trying to help people, only it’s all gone horribly wrong.

SERGEANT HILL

I can’t hear you very well, do you mind if I get a bit closer? // moves closer, almost within arm’s length //

JONAH CLEMENTS

That’s it. That is bloody it! I try to talk about problems and everyone has deaf ears. And you could be more subtle about getting close enough to grab me.

SERGEANT HILL

I am sorry. What went wrong?

JONAH CLEMENTS

A small charity wanted a favour. Would I manage a pension fund for their staff. Sure, I am a chartered accountant, I am glad to do some public service and help them. // he moves a little further away and makes himself more comfortable by hanging on the bridge //

Are you OK there? Aren’t you supposed to be doing something?

SERGEANT HILL

Tell me what went wrong.

JONAH CLEMENTS

You are sure you want to hang over the wall like that? OK, it’s not my funeral. Well, the charity was a bit out of my league, never done it before, and I did the best I could. I had to put my own name because I couldn’t put a pro bono through the firm’s books. And then I took a small management slice for me because I wasn’t getting an upfront fee. Seemed fine for a while. // he falls silent, moves as if he is going to jump //

SERGEANT HILL

// reaches over the bridge to JONAH // Here, take my hand.

JONAH CLEMENTS

No, I am not jumping yet. I need some time.

SERGEANT HILL

So come, take my hand.

JONAH CLEMENTS

You don’t get it, do you? I need you to listen. Weren’t you trained to do this? Well, after the financial crash, all my good intentions, my whole world collapsed.

SERGEANT HILL

So you have lost a lot of money? You are not to blame, no one could see that Stocks would fall as they have.

JONAH CLEMENTS

Yes, but, // he pauses // I am left with a Pension Fund with a huge hole in it, and I am liable for everything because it is in my own name. // sobs // I was trying to do a good turn, and now I know I have broken all the rules. I am disgraced professionally.

SERGEANT HILL

I am sorry to hear that Sir, here, I have a handkerchief for your tears.

// SERGEANT HILL moves over the bridge rail to grab JONAH, but slips and loses his balance. JONAH grabs him and saves him. The SERGEANT’S police hat floats down. The two of them are now holding onto the outside of the bridge // Oh my God! My whole life flashed before my eyes. Oh my God, I am going.

JONAH CLEMENTS

Hold tight, I have been safe here for ages.

SERGEANT HILL

Help me! // his feet scramble to get enough grip to launch him back over onto the bridge, but all he does is slip //

JONAH CLEMENTS

Calm down, don’t panic, you will fall if you panic. Look at me, I am quite relaxed, I am not in danger of falling when I don’t want to.

SERGEANT HILL

Oh my God! I have to stay still, stay still.

JONAH CLEMENTS

Those clumsy police shoes don’t help. These trainers have plenty of grip. Come on, talk to me, it will calm you down.

SERGEANT HILL

Ehhm // closes his eyes, and says shakily // They told me that suicides take their shoes off before they jump.

JONAH CLEMENTS

I don’t know why you would do that. You might get cold feet.

SERGEANT HILL

Is getting cold what you worry about when you are going to jump?

JONAH CLEMENTS

It was a joke, cold feet about jumping? I was trying to make you smile.

SERGEANT HILL

Sorry Sir, my mind is on other things.

// struggles to get his radio out but it falls from his grip and swings from its wire below his waist. He tries to reach for it, but startles as he loosens his grip on the bridge //

Oh my God! Help! Help!

JONAH CLEMENTS

No one will hear you, no one uses this road, that’s why I am here.

Here, let me get the radio for you. // he reaches down and grabs the wire, and offers the radio to the SERGEANT //

SERGEANT HILL

// he shakes his head // I can’t let go!

JONAH CLEMENTS

Let me see what I can do. // he presses a button on the radio //

Hello? Hello?

SERGEANT HILL

The other button.

JONAH CLEMENTS

// he presses another button // Hello? I have got one of your officers here, and he is in trouble, he can’t get to his radio. Can you send assistance? It is the bridge above the river near the motorway, the high level one. Yes he is OK for the moment. I am with him.

// he lets go of the phone //

SERGEANT HILL

How do you stay so bloody calm?

JONAH CLEMENTS

I have thought it all through. I am at peace with what I am doing.

You know we are both here for the same reason. We have a sense of duty to the community, and we do what we think is best. But what does it do to us, eh? What happens if it doesn’t go to plan? Community goes on in its own sweet way without our help, but we are expendable. // JONAH rummages in his pocket //

Here, do you want a sweet? // SERGEANT HILL shakes his head //

Oh, sorry you can’t let go, can you? Here you go. // JONAH reaches up and pops a sweet in the SERGEANT’s mouth, and then one into his own // Mmm, not bad.

SERGEANT HILL

// from the side of his mouth // How the hell can you think of sweets, hanging off a bridge?

JONAH CLEMENTS

Life goes on, even just before it ends. Now you are here, and you are not going to go away, let me finish what I was saying about why I am here. I am not intent on ending everything because of shame or guilt about losing half the pension fund.

SERGEANT HILL

You are being positive, that is good, but you could have said that before I tried to save you.

JONAH CLEMENTS

// continues // I have nothing to look forward to, so I am doing this for the charity. My professional insurances don’t cover me for private work, but I have insurance that covers my debts if I die. So that’s it. I can make everything right if I die. It’s that sense of duty to the community. You as a policeman put your life on the line to serve the community, don’t you, and for heaven’s sake, our troops do in conflict. Well, I am no different. // turns to the policeman //

You are not nodding off are you?

SERGEANT HILL

// shifts his balance a little // That’s an amazing thing to say, Sir, you took me aback for a moment.

JONAH CLEMENTS

It’s a calm, considered, decision. And I feel like I am doing something worthwhile. That’s what gives me courage I think. It makes me calm.

SERGEANT HILL

// to himself // You are calm to the point of being bloody irritating.

// they are quiet together for a moment // But you have been here for a long time, and you haven’t jumped. So, you have changed your mind?

JONAH CLEMENTS

Oh no, I haven’t changed my mind. It’s just that when I got here, and I got ready to jump, it didn’t seem right doing it on my own, hidden, out of sight. I needed someone here. And the other thing is that I hadn’t told anyone why I was doing it. I think I needed to declare to the world that I do this for the greater good. – and now, I have done it. Thanks for listening. Now I am ready to jump. // a police siren can be heard in the distance, getting closer //

SERGEANT HILL

Bloody hell, backup has arrived. // he starts to scramble to get over the side of the bridge again, his feet slipping as he tries //

Here, give me a push // JONAH CLEMENTS reaches over to give a push upwards, but as he does, the flying feet of the SERGEANT kick JONAH in the face. JONAH loses his grip on the bridge //

SERGEANT HILL

F**k! // he falls from the bridge //

// flashing blue lights can be seen as the siren stops. At this moment the SERGEANT rolls back over the wall onto the bridge out of sight. He can be heard howling loudly //

CURTAIN

A short play, performed with a group of other short plays, at Stratford Circus 2010.

Are you feeling creative? We are proud to have a hugely talented community on Rest Less. Which is why we’re so excited to open up a section of the site dedicated to showcasing the wonderful and diverse writing of our members. If you have a piece of creative writing that you’d like to share with the Rest Less community – you can do so here.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

Leave a Reply

Get the latest ideas, advice and inspiration

No spam. Just useful and interesting stuff, straight to your inbox. Covering jobs, finance, learning, volunteering, lifestyle and more.

By providing us your email address you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the link in our emails.

Good luck with your application

Before you go, we’d love to stay in touch to find out how you get on. Sign up to Rest Less today to get the latest volunteering, careers, learning, financial planning and lifestyle resources sent straight to your inbox.

By providing your email you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time through the link in our emails.

Good luck with your application

Before you go, we’d love to stay in touch to find out how you get on. Sign up to Rest Less today to get the latest jobs, learning, volunteering, financial planning and lifestyle resources sent straight to your inbox.

By providing your email you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time through the link in our emails.