This is the story of how a perfectly normal teenager, Damon Larson, is thrown into madness by his psychologist who, he thinks, framed him for murdering his girlfriend
[The lights come up. A barber’s chair sits in the middle of the stage. It is surrounded by tufts of barbed wire. ARTHUR is sitting in the seat. He is unconscious. After a flotilla of bass-lead thuds, much like a heart-beat, he comes to and looks around confused. He tries to free himself from the chains holding him to the chair. DAMON enters behind the chair. He smiles down at ARTHUR]
DAMON: Come in, Mr. Black and we’ll talk /
[ARTHUR responds to this. He looks around and struggles]
ARTHUR: Where am I? How did I get here?
[DAMON smirks and makes his way to the apron of the stage where he fiddles at an old vinyl. Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 4th Movement starts playing. He closes his eyes and enjoys the music for a second, before speaking over his shoulder to the confused ARTHUR]
DAMON: I heard you out there listening (Beat) It is late, but we must come to some decision /
ARTHUR: What am I doing here? Decision about what?
DAMON: It’ll all become clearer, Mr. Black (Beat) I have been at the post office tonight to get my personal letters. From these it appears that you have been keeping back my mail, both coming and going. The consequence of which is that the loss of time has as good as destroyed the result I expected from my work. In consequence of all this I have intercepted letters addressed to you to all your clients. I have sent several images out to all your clients and staff claiming that it was you who slept with Katherine D’Estrange, not I. To each image I have attached descriptions of the disgusting sodomy you practiced on her. All in your fair hand /
ARTHUR: This is madness /
DAMON: Is it? Where were you the night that poor, innocent girl was murdered?
[ARTHUR stops struggling and stares at DAMON in disbelief]
DAMON: Were you fucking her? / I suppose she was vulnerable being dead
ARTHUR: You sick, twisted freak
DAMON: Whilst you have been asleep, Mr. Black, I have looked through your files and retrieved my property and it appears from these letters that for some time past you have been arraying my old friends against me by spreading reports about my mental condition. And you have succeeded in your efforts, for now not more than one person exists who believes that I am sane. Now these are the facts about my illness, Mr. Black and I want you to listen so fucking closely your ears will burn. My mind is sound, as you know, so that I can take care of my duties in the service as well as my responsibilities financially. My feelings are more or less under my control, as my will has not been completely undermined; but you have gnawed at it so that it will soon slip the cogs, and then the whole mechanism will turn to shit (Beat) I have worked and slaved for you, your child, your wife; I have sacrificed promotion and career; I have endured torture, flagellation, sleeplessness, worry for your sake, until my hair has grown grey; and all that you might enjoy a life without care, and when you grew old, enjoy life over again in your child. This is the commonest kind of theft, the most brutal slavery (Beat) I thought I was completing myself when Katherine and I became one, and therefore you were allowed to rule, and I, the commander at the barracks and before the troops, became obedient to you, grew through you, looked up to you as to a more highly-gifted being, listened to you as a friend, not a colleague. You always had the advantage. You could hypnotize me when I was wide awake, so that I neither saw nor heard, but merely obeyed (Beat) You killed her, didn’t you? When we were in The Burnhouse with Pete and his kids. You went outside with her. What did you do, Arthur? What did you do to that girl? (Beat) It was then that I threw myself into history. And now when I was about to reach out my hand to gather in its fruits, you chop off my arm. Now I am dishonoured and can live no longer, for a man cannot live without honour /
ARTHUR: Damon, please. Whatever happened to Katherine, I’m sorry. But it wasn’t me. I didn’t kill her
DAMON: Do you think I can believe you?
ARTHUR: Please. Believe me
[DAMON walks to table where he picks up an instrument]
DAMON: Have you ever heard of Thumb Screwing, Mr. Black?
DAMON: It was first introduced in medieval England. As a man of bringing up ghosts from the past, I would’ve thought that you’d be interested in that (Beat) It was used to torture slaves. Small designed mechanisms that crushed bones. The thumbscrew was also applied to crush prisoners’ big toes. The crushing bars were sometimes lined with sharp metal points to puncture the nails and inflict greater pain. Larger, heavier devices based on the same design principle were applied to crush knees and elbows. Count yourself lucky, Mr. Black (Beat) I bought this off of a man in Phuket. I went over there to do some volunteer work. Back when I wasn’t such a twisted bastard. Tell me, Mr. Black, as I’m sure you’ll know: more people die from injury related reasons inflicted upon them, do they not?
[ARTHUR doesn’t reply]
DAMON: I believe the answer is yes (Beat) I hate you, Mr. Black. I hate you more than words can say. From the lies you have told everyone to the fucking earth you walk on; I hate it (Beat) I didn’t murder Katherine L’Estrange. I didn’t. Not out of rage, not because my father had died at the hands of the same thing that killed my mother –
DAMON: The truth! You did this
ARTHUR: Please, Damon, don’t do this. Your parents, if they knew –
DAMON: Don’t you dare bring my parents into this. They’re dead. Dead and you killed them
ARTHUR: I protected you when everyone was pressing charges, I stood by you. Is this the thanks I get? For being a friend? /
DAMON: For being my shrink, there’s a difference
ARTHUR: Please don’t do this, Damon. You’re a good person
DAMON: Oh, and you are?
ARTHUR: I never said that /
DAMON: But you were thinking it
ARTHUR: Please don’t do this
DAMON: I have to. For her
[DAMON clamps the screw onto ARTHUR’s big toe whilst he screams and wriggles. There’s a crack of bone breaking and ARTHUR screams. The lights turn to black and there is a moment of thick silence. There is a louder, blood churning crack and ARTHUR screams again. The music continues playing for a while, then softly fades out]