Monday, February 22, 2010

Romeo and Juliet

The setting is a lonely dark street with a house towards one end. Outside a high window in the house a streetlamp tosses a puddle of light underneath. Juliet sits at the lit window, brushing her hair and getting ready for a party. A knot in her hair catches her attention for a moment, but otherwise she is engrossed.

A love struck Romeo looks at her from the darkness underneath her window. He steps forward into the light of the streetlight, and strolls towards the pole. He looks at her and says, “Hey, Jule”

Juliet shrieks and jumps with a start. She turns around and sees what’s going on in the street below and sees Romeo standing there, by the pole.

She says “Good heavens, it's you! Sheesh, You nearly gave me a heart attack there, you know?!”

Romeo just looks at her and smiles.

””So, my favourite boyfriend is back, huh? What are you doing here?”

“Er…. I don’t know, really. Just thought I’d come and say…er…Hi?”

“You really shouldn't, you know. What’s the idea? You can’t just go around sneaking upon people from underneath their windows and singing songs to them and frightening them half to death. That sort of thing really ruins their day. Anyway, what do you want now?”

“I… I don’t know. I would’ve already told you if I did.”

“So, are you just gonna stand there all night and wonder what to say?”

“I don’t know.”

“Know what, you can take the whole night to decide what to say, but I’ve gotta run in five minutes.”

“Hey Jule…you wanna go out with me tonight?”

“No, of course not! And don’t call me Jule.”

“Hey, lemme take you out, just tonight? Let me take you out to Koshy’s. I know how much you love their grilled fish.”

“Dude, let it slide, will you? You’ve tried this so many times before…when has it ever worked?”

”What the fuck was I supposed to do, Jule? What were the odds against us failing? The die was loaded from the start, and I knew that! I knew what I was letting myself into when we first met. But I still bet on it. And you know what, I’d bet on loaded dice for you anyday, because you are worth way more than the risk, Jule. So I bet and voila! You exploded into my life.”

“Hehe, yeah. Silly days, those…I remember how we could never get enough of each other. Childish days, if you ask me. How foolish were we!”

“But they were beautiful days, weren’t they? What was that song, Jule, that sounded just like our story? It was some movie song we used to hum all the time, I forget…”

“Okay, so there was some song. What’s your point now?”

”Have you wondered ever, Jule, that maybe it was all just wrong timing. At that time, maybe we were too young, too green. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for us yet… Maybe WE weren’t ready for us yet. Have you wondered ever whether things might have gotten better now? Do you ever wonder if we might make it good if we try again? Just once?”

“Not working, dude…There really is no point talking about the past now. Michael will be here anytime and he is gonna be upset if he sees you here. Don’t make any noise, and quietly bugger off to where you came from.”

“Jule, do you remember the time when we used to work two shifts a day, when we were hungry and all we had was each other, and a dream?”

“It’s all past, Romeo. What the fuck difference does it make now?”

“It happened to us, babe! We lived it. We dreamt of making it big.”

“Get to the point, Romeo. I don’t have all day.”

Come up on different streets they both were streets of shame
Both dirty both mean yes and the dream was just the same
And I dreamed your dream for you and now your dream is real”

“It was never your dream. It was mine. And I’ve made it, Romeo. I’m living my dream.”

“Yeah, but what about our dream? Have we made it, Jule?”

“I think we blew it, dude. But honestly, it doesn’t matter a damn now.”

“But I still hold on to the hope we once shared.”

“Ha! Hope is sad business, mister. It sucks. It is the root cause of all the worry and misery in the world. It’s the reason for all the pain and jealousy and unfulfilled expectations. Hope is pathetic. It’s a delusion. Fuck hope.”

“Why did it have to end like this, Jule? Why is our past an unwanted presence in your present?”

“Why the fuck do you talk like that, dude? Like some fucking freak? Why can’t you just talk like, you know, like normal people?”

“How can you treat me like an outsider, like some stranger? How can you look at me as if I was just another one of your deals?”

“Deals?! What the hell are you talking about? Are you accusing me of using you? Where is all this jealousy coming from? Romeo, I was never really in love till now.”

“Really? What was the deal with that doctor, then? What were you doing with that TV actor for three months?”

“But that was just a stupid crush! A brief midsummer night’s fling. And now don’t you read anything into flings!”

“What was the deal with me, then? Was that a fling too? Can I read ANYTHING into it at all?”

“Nah… Those were just butterflies I got attracted to.”

“But you loved them.”

“Hmm…maybe, yeah… maybe I'll always love them. All just butterflies, though.”

”When you can fall for chains of silver you can fall for chains of gold
You can fall for pretty strangers and the promises they hold”

“I never got tied down. I never made anyone any promises! I just walk around, Romeo.”

“But I fell in love with you.”

“Whose problem is that?”

“Mine. I believed you. I believed your promises.”

“I never promised you anything.”

You promised me everything. You promised me thick and thin…”

“Look, we had a good thing going, okay? But that was ages ago. It never meant anything. And it’s over now. Over! Stop feeling pathetic for yourself and get a move-on, now.”

“…I remember I was once your world. If I said something and the entire world said the opposite, you believed the entire world was wrong. And these days you just say “Oh, Romeo? Yeah…you know I once used to have a scene with him”

Juliet is silent.

Romeo says, “Jule, when we made love you used to cry.”

“I did?”

“You did.”

“Whoa, what else did I do?”

”You used to say ‘I love you like the stars above and I'll love you till I die’

“Fiction! I don’t think I ever said that!”

“Yes, you did. I know you loved me.”

“Okay, I must have said something that might have sounded like that. But really, Romeo, its not gonna work, do you realise that? So, stop following me and just bugger off and get a life. Do you understand? Stop stalking me. When the fuck are you going to realize that we just not going to work???

“But what about us, baby? You knew us back then! We were so good together, babe. What happened to us? We were invincible!”

“Things come and go. Times change, honey.”

“But I’m still the same person.”

“Do you realize how pathetic you sound? What have you ever done for me? What the fuck COULD you do anyway?”

“Yeah, I know. I could never cook for you. I could never make you happy. I kept forgetting our anniversary, and I couldn’t afford to get you that pretty velvet dress. I could never remember to water the plants, and I kept forgetting to call.”

“I’m telling you, no girl can ever stand nonsense like this. You’re lucky we had a good run. But no one else would have put up with you, because you were never good, and you’ll never be any good.”

“I’ll never be good enough for you, Juliet.”

“You were never good enough for me, Romeo.”

“But I did love you madly.”

“You’re just wheezing through a straw.”

“I guess I’ll always love you.”

There is silence for many moments. Both look in different directions.



“Maybe I can't do the talk like they talk on the TV
And I can't do a love song like the way it's meant to be
I can't do everything but I'd do anything for you
I can't do anything except be in love you”

“’Heck am I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know. I can’t really expect you to do anything about it, I guess. I guess it’s just me singing into the blank universe, waiting for an echo…like the wife of a fisherman, who awaits him when he has gone to sea; who gazes into the sea and hopes; who drops a coin into a well and prays. That’s what I do, Juliet. I just drop coins into wells and trust the Universe. That’s all I do. And all I do is miss you, and the way we used to be.

“So what do you do now?”

“I jam a little way down the street with the tough boys from the harbour. All I seem to do these days is keep the beat and the bad company.”

“Do you still do drugs?”

”I’ve always been possessed by poisons. But it is a prison I’ve chosen for myself, so I know where the bars are. Now my imagination is a song. Now it is lying next to you under an ocean of stars. Now my imagination is kissing you through the bars of a rhyme.”

“Orion? Did you say bars of Orion?”

“No, I said bars of a rhyme. I can only kiss you through the notes of a song.”

“Oh, I thought you said bars of Orion.”


“It sure sounded like it.”

Romeo beams at Juliet. “No, but I’d do the Orion with you anytime! You remember the time we used to do stars together from our balcony?”

Juliet giggles. “Yeah, and later we used to make love.”

Romeo smiles. “You used to cry.”

Juliet looks away. Romeo silently gazes at his hands.

Romeo says, “What am I going to do, Juliet?”

“How the fuck am I supposed to know?”

“How am I ever gonna fill the little Juliet-shaped hole in my heart?”

“Easy. Find someone. Maybe someone like you. A hopeless romantic.”

“I will love you till I die, Jule”

“Have I been speaking in fucking Icelandic?! I told you not to call me that. Don’t you get it?”


“Shoo off now. Mikey’s gonna be here, and he will be real pissed if he sees you.”

They both stand and look around, glancing at each other occasionally, and smiling whenever their eyes meet.

Finally Romeo says, “Juliet, I hope you realise that it was just time that was wrong.”

Juliet sighs, takes a step backward and smiles. “It is not going to work, my dear.”

She turns and walks off the scene. The street is dark and quiet. Now there is absolute stillness. The painful kind of stillness that sucks all life out of the air and leaves you numb. A deep mourning silence. The aftermath of a misfortune. But here near the streetlamp underneath Juliet’s window, there seems to be a slow jaunty tune floating about.

It’s Romeo. He whistles a serenade in the empty street to himself. Head down and hands in pockets, he ambles around the streetlamp and kicks a can. He pauses, turns back towards where Juliet disappeared and stares rather hopelessly at the darkness. He looks at Juliet's empty window, smiles and hums to himself, “Hey Jule…You and me, babe… how about it?

* * *

From the beggarly bottom of my heart, I owe Mark Knopfler a colossal debt of gratitude.