(Two teenage girls are on a train. In the UK, there are 1st Class carriages on trains.)
JANE -- Hey Roz, we can't sit here - this carriage is 1st Class. We'll be arrested!
ROZ -- Don’t be silly, Jane. All you do is say you're sorry and they move you on down the train.
JANE -- But there’s a guitar here – what if these seats have been reserved by some famous rock star?
ROZ -- Jane, be serious. Rock stars don’t travel by train. They have their own helicopters and private jets. Can you imagine Bobby Jax sitting here, reading the paper and nodding off like some ordinary passenger?
JANE -- I thought we weren’t going to mention his name ever again?
ROZ -- Who, you mean Bobby Jax? Did I really say ‘Bobby Jax’ without throwing up?
JANE -- You just said it twice more. You mustn’t. It’s all over now. He’s gone. BJ is history. Fantastic history, but history all the same.
ROZ -- Sorry, Jane, I just can’t help it. The name, it’s part of me now, it's in my bones. I’ve lived and breathed Bobby Jax for as long as I can remember.
JANE -- Yes and that’s fine, cos that’s what he IS now, a memory.
ROZ -- Yeah, but what a memory! Rock at its best. Hard songs that ripped apart the pretensions of our so-called civilised society …
JANE -- I know, I know, he was the greatest. He was a lot of things but now he’s –
ROZ -- I just wish I knew why, Jane. WHY? WHY? (head drops down)
A CLEAN-SHAVEN MAN WITH SHORT HAIR SITS DOWN OPPOSITE THE GIRLS AND NEXT TO THE GUITAR
MAN -- (tentatively to Jane) Er, you know you could be in trouble if the ticket inspector –
JANE -- Yeah all right, we’ll move on – but can’t you see my mate’s upset?
MAN -- I’m sorry, what’s wrong – can I help?
JANE -- I doubt it. Not unless you’re a close friend of Bobby Jax...
MAN -- Why, has Jax hurt your friend?
JANE -- Not just her. All of us who loved his music and what he stood for. We loved him, we worshipped him – and now, well, it’s all over.
MAN -- Is he dead?
JANE -- Might as well be. Have you heard his new album?
MAN -- Is it that bad?
ROZ -- (raising her head for the first time) Bad doesn’t begin to describe it. We could take ‘bad’. Nobody’s perfect. But this, it’s... it’s...
JANE -- He’s betrayed us, it’s as simple as that. He built us up –
ROZ -- - and now he’s smashed us down.
MAN -- Come on, you must be exaggerating.
ROZ -- Exaggerating? Do you know what it’s called? ‘Rising With The Sun’.
MAN -- Well?
ROZ -- Rising with the Sun! It’s... he’s... he’s gone... I can’t say it. You tell him.
JANE -- (as if she is swallowing poison) Country!!!
MAN -- Country? He’s gone Country?
JANE -- Country, yeah.
ROZ -- I keep thinking I’m dreaming. It’s a horrible nightmare and I’ll wake up.
MAN -- You’re going to have to explain.
ROZ -- In Country music, you see, there’s no rebelling against your parents, no kicking against authority, no slaughtering of sacred cows –
JANE -- It’s all love your Mom and Pop, how green is my valley and the joys of home cooking. THAT is NOT Bob Jax!
ROZ -- What makes it worse is, he hid himself away to make this album. It was going to be his definitive statement!
JANE -- Many of our mates think he’s dead. He’s dead and they’re issuing any old rubbish in his name to make a quick buck.
ROZ -- Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t even SOUND like him...
MAN -- But surely, he’s been SEEN recently?
ROZ -- Oh yeah, a few heartbroken fans reckon to have seen him – a strange figure with short hair and no beard!
JANE -- As if Bobby would ever cut his hair!
MAN -- You two really are STUPID, d’you know?
JANE -- Hey, hang on!
MAN -- And you say you were his fans. You loved him! Can’t you see that this was bound to happen?
ROZ -- Eh?
JANE -- Jax was bound to go Country?
ROZ -- And you’re calling US stupid?!
MAN -- There are so many clues in his earlier works. What’s his greatest album?
JANE -- ‘Chapter 24 Revisited’ of course.
MAN -- OK, and what’s it about?
ROZ -- Urban squalor. The failure of civilisation.
MAN -- So, if the city has failed us, where’s the obvious place to go?
ROZ -- (still not understanding) I don’t follow...
MAN -- What else is Chapter 24 Revisited about?
ROZ -- The emptiness and absurdity of life.
MAN -- Of ALL life?
JANE -- No, of life lived to satisfy greed –
ROZ -- He couldn’t stand the crass commercialism of the music industry –
JANE -- (to R) Remember their faces at the Mercury Awards when he turned over the tables with all the trophies on!
MAN -- So because of that, you think he came to destroy everything?
ROZ -- Well –
MAN -- What did you expect, that he’d take over the world or something?
JANE -- Well no but –
MAN -- Can’t you see he was leading you somewhere? What would be the point of just going round destroying everything? Is that really what you liked about him?
ROZ -- No of course not, but –
MAN -- He was leading you somewhere. You call it Country. I’d call it a BETTER country. Where a mother’s love is valued more highly than a fat pay cheque. Where respect for God’s Creation has a higher priority than raping the earth for profit. Where the sun reflecting off the sea at sunrise gives you a greater high than drugs. You were his fans. You should have trusted him. You should have believed in him. Anyway, this is my stop – (gets up and goes to leave, guitar by his side)
JANE -- (gets up and follows him) Can’t you stay here with us?
ROZ -- (gets up and joins Jane) Yeah, please stay and talk some more.
MAN -- Alright, I’ll sing you a song from BJ’s new album. (picks up his guitar with a flourish)
(The two girls turn away from the Man in a frantic state of excitement)
JANE -- Roz! Did you see the way he picked up his guitar?
ROZ -- There’s only one person who does that!
J&R -- (together, still with their backs turned) It's Bobby Jax!! (now they turn and find he's gone)
J&R -- (together in horror) He’s GONE!!
JANE -- (sits on his seat) He was HERE! He sat on this seat!
ROZ -- He SPOKE to us, Jan – we felt his BREATH on our faces!
JANE -- How could we have been so stupid?! Wasn’t it fantastic when he explained everything to us? It was all so obvious! What were we thinking?!
ROZ -- (suddenly realising) JAN! We’ve got to tell the others! They think he’s dead – we’ve got to tell them …
JANE -- He’s ALIVE!
ROZ -- And that “Rising With The Sun” is –
J&R -- (together) THE GREATEST !!!!!!!
English. Masters in French. Retired parish priest. Associate Writer with Redemptorist Publications (Anglican Dept). Also published in Church Times and BBC 'Book of the Future'. UK tour manager of Russian Orthodox 6-person choir. Works copyright of Geoff Anderson in perpetuity. Contact email@example.com.