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Poor Things (2023) | Transcript

The incredible tale about the fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter.
Emma Stone in POOR THINGS

In Victorian London, a peculiar tale unfolds around Bella Baxter, a young woman seemingly brought back to life by the eccentric scientist, Dr. Godwin Baxter. Bella, however, behaves like a child, lacking memories due to an unorthodox procedure involving a brain transplant. Max McCandles, a medical student assisting Dr. Baxter, becomes captivated by Bella’s childlike innocence and falls in love. He proposes marriage, offering Bella a chance at normalcy.

Their seemingly idyllic life takes a sharp turn when Bella discovers a hidden letter revealing her past: a life of poverty and forced prostitution that ended in suicide. Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Bella escapes with a charming but slippery lawyer, Mr. Silas “Sunny” St. Clair. Together, they embark on a whirlwind adventure across Europe, indulging in their desires and defying societal norms.

Their journey, however, is not without its darkness. Sunny, initially enamored by Bella’s free spirit, becomes controlling and manipulative. In Lisbon, where they spend a significant amount of time, their relationship becomes increasingly strained, further complicated by Bella’s growing awareness of the injustices faced by the poor. Witnessing the suffering in Alexandria, Bella grapples with her own past and the complexities of the societal order.

Driven by a desire for independence and her newfound sense of self-worth, Bella leaves Sunny. She finds herself resorting to sex work in a brothel, encountering a harsh reality she had only glimpsed before. There she develops an unlikely connection with a young, idealistic maid, allowing her to find solace and a glimmer of hope.

Meanwhile, Max, heartbroken by Bella’s disappearance, relentlessly searches for her. When their paths finally cross again, their reunion is bittersweet. Bella, no longer the naive girl he once knew, has transformed into a strong and independent woman who refuses to be controlled.

The film concludes with Bella continuing her journey of self-discovery, leaving her future open-ended. Her experiences have irrevocably shaped her, and she stands at a crossroads, ready to face the world on her own terms.

* * *

(EMOTIONAL STRING MUSIC PLAYING)

(UNSETTLING MUSIC PLAYING)

(UNSETTLING MUSIC STOPS)

(HEART BEATING)

(PIANO KEYS BLARE)

(PIANO KEYS BLARE)

(PLAYING RANDOM KEYS)

(PIANO CONTINUES PLAYING)

(GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

(UTENSILS CLACK RHYTHMICALLY)

(GENTLE MUSIC CONTINUES)

(LIQUID BUBBLING)

(PROLONGED BELCHING)

(GENTLE MUSIC CONTINUES)

(BUBBLE POPS)

WOMAN: Ba. Ba! Ba!

(MUSIC SWELLS)

WOMAN: Ba, ba, ba.

DOCTOR: Bye.

WOMAN: Ba, ba.

(ANIMAL SNEEZES)

DOCTOR: A pile of organs without the spark of self from a brain or the pump of blood from a heart. Just a butcher’s tray for a Sunday lunch. Now, who would like to reconstruct the organs? And who can tell human from animal, if there is a difference?

(CHUCKLES QUIETLY)

DOCTOR: Come, come. You did puzzles as children, did you not?

Is it just me, or is it devilishly hard to concentrate when the monster’s talking?

He is an extraordinary surgeon. His research is groundbreaking. His father founded this place.

STUDENT: Have you mistaken yourself as included in this conversation, Max McCandles? Your physical proximity to us does not make it so.

Fuck off, old pal. Get yourself a suit.

DOCTOR: You really think that’s where the liver goes, sir?

Can I ask what is the purpose of putting them back in, sir?

DOCTOR: My amusement. Mr. Max McCandles! Walk with me at the end of the lesson.


(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

DOCTOR: Your paper.

MAX: You liked it, sir?

DOCTOR: It showed signs of a conventional mind straining hard to almost touch mediocrity.

MAX: Thank you.

DOCTOR: I need someone. An assistant on a project.

MAX: I would love to.

DOCTOR: Are you a religious man?

MAX: I believe in God.

DOCTOR: Me or the deity?

MAX: Humorous, as you’re often known as the…

DOCTOR: It is a joke of my own making. I do not need it explicated for me.

WOMAN: The very devil’s work.

MAX: Have you thought of growing a beard, sir?

DOCTOR: I look like a big dog in a cravat.

MAX: Kids like dogs. Uh, this job.

DOCTOR: Yes. Come.

(OBJECT SMASHES)

(PLATE SMASHES)

(QUIRKY MUSIC PLAYING)

(SMASHES)

WOMAN: God! God.

(DOCTOR GRUNTS)

God.

DOCTOR: Hello.

WOMAN: Hello.

DOCTOR: (CHUCKLES) Bella, this is Mr. McCandles.

MAX: Hello, Bella.

(MAX GRUNTS) Oh. Uh…

BELLA: Bud.

DOCTOR: Blood.

BELLA: Bud.

DOCTOR: Blood.

BELLA: Blood.

DOCTOR: Marvelous.

MAX: I’m fine. I’m fine.

(GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

MAX: What a very pretty retard.

DOCTOR: She suffered a brain injury. I repaired it. Her mental age and her body are not quite synchronized. Language is coming. She is progressing at an accelerated pace.

MAX: She is stunning.

DOCTOR: I need to meticulously note her progression. You will do this for me?

MAX: It would be my honor.

BELLA: Wee! Wee!

DOCTOR: (CHUCKLES) Yes. It is exciting, Bella.

MAX: “Wee.” I believe she’s doing…

DOCTOR: Mrs. Prim! Wee.


(CURTAIN RUSTLING)

(DRAMATIC STRING MUSIC PLAYING)

(WATCH CLICKS)

(COUGHS)

(SPITS)

MAX: Do you not like kippers? Uh, I am quite partial to them, actually. I find them to be, uh, nice in the morning…

(QUIRKY STRING MUSIC PLAYING)

BELLA: Bella cut, too?

DOCTOR: Just dead ones for Bella.

BELLA: Just dead.

DOCTOR: Just dead.

BELLA: Just dead. Squish! Squish, squish.

(BREATHES HEAVILY)

BELLA: Chog! (BARKING) Chog! Run!

(CHOG BARKS)

(BELLA BARKS)

BELLA: Chog.

(CHOG BARKS)

(ANIMALS GRUNTING AND WHINING)

MAX: She… She gathers 15 words a day.

DOCTOR: Hmm.

MAX: Her coordination is unstable at best. In the evenings, there’s progress.

DOCTOR: Mm.

MAX: Her hair grows one inch every two days. I have a hair diagram here.

DOCTOR: Excellent. You may go. See you tomorrow.

MAX: Sir, where did she come from?

DOCTOR: I believe your job is collecting data. When I add inane questions to it, I’ll let you know.

DOCTOR: “And so, when they returned from the wood, she was reunited with her Mummy and Daddy. That night, for dinner, they ate cake until they were sick. They were so happy to be back together.”

BELLA: You me Daddy, God?

DOCTOR:

BELLA: I… Prim say you not be. Bella nowhere girl. Where that be? Nowhere?

DOCTOR: You are an orphan. Your parents died.

BELLA: Then you cut parents up, God?

DOCTOR: No. They were my friends. They were brave explorers, and they were killed in a landslide in South America. They pushed the boundaries of what was known, and they paid the price. But that is the only way to live, Bella. They sent you to me to care for you.

BELLA: Dead?

DOCTOR: I’m afraid so, my darling.

BELLA: Poor Bella. But love God.

DOCTOR: (CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

(BELLA MOANS)

BELLA: Sleep here.

DOCTOR: No. Good night, dear Bella.


BELLA: This, parents.

Peru, yes.

BELLA: Why you pen book every nut?

I must note down your nutritional intake.

BELLA: How many?

Um…

BELLA: Tell Bella other places.

That’s Lisbon, Portugal. The south of France. The Alps.

(IMITATES FLYING SOUND)

(FINGER THUDS)

Australia. Far away and dangerous, in both people and animal.

BELLA: Bella want look at world.

Just… Bella.

BELLA: Hmm?

Bella, I don’t think we’re allowed up here. Let’s just…

(STAIRS RATTLES) (MAX GRUNTS)

(BELL TOLLING)

(UNEASY MUSIC PLAYING) (WIND WHISTLING)

Bella.

(BELLA GRUNTING EXCITEDLY) Bella.

MAX: No. Bella, this is dangerous.

(BELLA GASPS)

(GRUNTS)

(WIND WHISTLING)

MAX: Bella. No, Bella. (GASPING)

(OBJECT CLACKS)

(BELLA CLAPPING)

(UNEASY MUSIC CONTINUES)

BELLA: God. Outside must go.

Outside? No, we work. Cut fingers?

BELLA: Candles take me. Candles.

MAX: Of… Of course I can. If…

DOCTOR: No.

BELLA: Yes. Out!

Has she ever been outside?

BELLA: No.

I have created a perfectly entertaining and safe world for Bella.

BELLA: Now.

Bella.

BELLA: Now!

(GLASS SMASHES)

BELLA: Now!

DOCTOR: Bella.

(ANIMAL GRUNTS)

DOCTOR: You know, so many things outside can kill you, Bella.

BELLA: Kill dead?

DOCTOR: Snakes, carriages, sharp-faced birds, earthquakes, inhalation of toxic grass seeds. (INHALES)

Bella. (PANTING) Bella.

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

(ALL CHUCKLE)

(FROG RIBBITS)

MAX: Bella. Look.

(RIBBITS)

(GASPS)

BELLA: Kill it.

MAX: What?

(SMACKS)

(PENSIVE MUSIC CONTINUES)

BELLA: Why you funny thumbs, God?

DOCTOR: Once when I was very small, my father pinned my thumbs into a small iron case to see whether he could retard the growth cycle of bones. Now, the pain was so great, to stop myself from weeping, I would stare deeply into my other fingers, and simply by observation, begin to parse out the epidemiological elements. When he came back, to his surprise, I was smiling.

MAX: Good God.

DOCTOR: He was a man of unconventional mind.

(FOOTSTEPS)

DOCTOR: Time to go. Uh, a storm approaches.

(BELLA GASPS)

MAX: Why must you scare her so?

DOCTOR: She’s an experiment, and I must control the conditions or our results will not be pure. Mm!

(CHILDREN SHOUTING AND LAUGHING)

BELLA: (GASPS) Stop! God, we go!

DOCTOR: No, Bella.

BELLA: Bella want walk in ice cream.

DOCTOR: No.

BELLA: Bella wants!

DOCTOR: My face. People scared of God. Laugh at God.

BELLA: God lovely. Like dog face. Woof. Woof, woof!

(CHUCKLES) Quite.

BELLA: Stop! Me walk.

DOCTOR: No!

BELLA: No now? No never?

Just no.

BELLA: Ahhh!

(BELLA SCREAMING) (SHOUTS)

DOCTOR: Bella!

BELLA: No! No! No! No!

DOCTOR: Hey! Bella!

(BELLA GRUNTING)

BELLA: No!

(BELLA CONTINUES SCREAMING)

MAX: Sorry. Sorry.

BELLA: No! No! No!

(MAX GRUNTING)

(MUFFLED SCREAMING)

(SCREAMING STOPS)

DOCTOR: I’m sorry, my darling.

MAX: Mother of God.


(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC CONTINUES)

MAX: What did you do to her? Why are you hiding her? Tell me what all this means, or I’ll go to the police.

DOCTOR: I shall. For it is a happy tale.

(EMOTIONAL STRING MUSIC PLAYING)

DOCTOR: It is rare to get a body, albeit dead, but so close to life. Rigor had not set in. The body had hardly cooled. No pulse. But some electric currents, so I could have kept her alive.

MAX: But you didn’t.

DOCTOR: I knew nothing of the life she had abandoned, except she hated it so much that she had chosen not to be, and forever. What would she feel on being dragged from her carefully chosen blank eternity and forced to be put in one of our understaffed, poorly-equipped madhouses, reformatories or jails? For in this Christian nation, suicide is treated as lunacy or crime. Who was I to decide her fate? But then there was also, on my part, a recognition. All my research had come to this moment. Fate had brought me a dead body, and a live infant. It was obvious.

MAX: It was?

DOCTOR: Take the infant’s brain out and put it in the full-grown woman, reanimate her, and watch.

MAX: Jesus!

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC CONTINUES)

(ELECTRICITY CRACKLING)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC CONTINUES)

(CRACKLING STOPS)

MAX: She knows?

DOCTOR: No.

MAX: Who was she?

DOCTOR: No idea. But would you rather the world did not have Bella?


(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(BIRDS CHIRPING OUTSIDE)

(INHALES SHARPLY)

(GASPS SOFTLY)

(RAPID RUBBING AND SQUELCHING)

(GASPS, MOANS)

(CRUNCHING)

(BREATHES HEAVILY)

(GASPS)

(MOANING)

(CONTINUES MOANING)

(GASPING)

(EXHALES)

(PANTING)

Mrs. Prim? Hmm?

Bella discover happy when she want.

Uh-huh.

You are a sour face, but I fix you.

Close eyes.

Oh! No!

Just wait. It takes a moment.

She grabbed my hairy business.

She’s sick!

Bella.

Bella have discover something I must share.

Watch.

What if put cucumber in me? MRS. PRIM: No.

Bella! Bella!

Cease working yourself immediately.

What?

In polite society, that is not done.

Oh.

Oh.

Just do not.

(CUTLERY CLACKING)

What… is that?

My father took out my oxyntic and pyloric glands,

so I must make my own gastric juices.

Why in God’s name would he do that?

To discover what no one knew.

Turns out we need them. Ideally.

Bella,

you have not eaten.

Do not.

(PLATE SMASHES)

BELLA: Good night.

MAX: ‘Night.

(BELCHING)

(BUBBLE POPS) You know,

I’m actually something of a romantic, Max.

What?

I believe I see love between you and Bella.

Uh, I… She is…

Perhaps you should marry her.

What?

I think she loves you.

MAX: Oh. (CHUCKLES)

DOCTOR: I’ve seen people look at each other with love,

as an observer.

Not the subject, of course. I see it.

MAX: You do?

I, um…

I do have feelings for her.

So, you would?

Take Bella out. (GASPS)

Bella…

Um…

I…

Feel funny?

(MAX MOANS)

Um… Do Bella.

MAX: I was wondering

if perhaps you were raising her

to be your mistress.

A dark thought unworthy of me, I know.

So, you are not laying with her?

Spermatic ejaculation can only induce homeostasis in me

if accompanied by prolonged stimulation

of higher nerve centers

whose pressure on the ductless glands

changes the chemistry of my blood

not for a few spasmodic minutes,

but for many days.

What?

I am a eunuch and can’t fuck her.

To get a sexual response from my body

would take the same amount of electricity

as runs North London.

Mm-hmm. Besides, my paternal feelings

seem to outweigh my sexual thoughts.

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

MAX: I apologize for my own dark thoughts.

DOCTOR: Not dark at all.

Men’s, indeed all sexuality, is basically immoral.

MAX: Not all, sir.

DOCTOR: Do you wish to marry her or not?

I wish to marry you. Be my wife.

(MAX KISSES) (GROANS)

Let us touch each other’s genital pieces.

Uh… No. No.

I do not wish to take advantage of you.

You are special.

When we are wed.

(PENSIVE MUSIC CONTINUES)

One condition.

She must desire it also, I understand.

Two conditions, then.

That one you said,

and you must live here with me, always.

I will have a legal agreement drawn up.

(DOCTOR MUMBLING)

MAN: Hmm.

(CONTINUES MUMBLING)

(MAN GULPS DRINK, EXHALES)

Curious contract.

There are several spelling errors.

Oh. Immaterial to the legal bindingness of it,

I assure you.

Must be quite a woman to warrant such binding.

(DOCTOR MUMBLING SOFTLY)

If you’ll excuse me, I need to use the facilities.

Are you five years old that you can’t hold your water?

Weak bladder, sir.

Like my father before me and his before him.

You may have prostate cancer. Look into it.

Will do.

(OFFBEAT STRING MUSIC PLAYING)

(OFFBEAT STRING MUSIC CONTINUES)

(OFFBEAT STRING MUSIC CONTINUES)

Ms. Bella Baxter, as per your contract, no doubt.

Good afternoon, visiting man.

Want my hat?

Would it suit me?

Yes. (LAUGHS) (CHUCKLES)

It is foolish good.

I had to meet this woman who would inspire

such a contract of marriage that imprisons her.

What you mean?

You shall live here,

travel with Mr. Max McCandles and Baxter abroad,

but not go forth in the city.

I see.

They love me tight.

I understand why.

I have to pinch you, to see if you are real.

You will not… Ah.

Who is you?

Mr. Duncan Wedderburn.

(OFFBEAT STRING MUSIC PLAYS)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(SOFT KNOCKING AT WINDOW)

(QUIETLY) Open.

(LOUDLY) How you get up here?

Shh.

I climbed.

(DOORKNOB RATTLES)

(SIGHS)

(OFFBEAT MUSIC PLAYING) (DUNCAN GRUNTS)

(FIREWORKS WHISTLING)

You were watch me long?

Not long.

You did not see me working on myself

to get happiness, did you?

It is not polites, I know.

(DUNCAN GRUNTS)

Do not care for polite society.

It’s fucking boring.

Destroys one’s soul.

God not believe in soul.

(DUNCAN GROANS)

I think God’s the actual author of the soul idea.

Godwin Baxter?

That burnt dog.

What is that story?

You are a prisoner and I aim to free you.

Something in you, some hungry being,

hungry for experience, freedom, touch.

To see the unknown and know it.

So, why am I here, you ask?

I’m going to Lisbon on Friday. I’d like you to come.

Lisbon of Portugal?

That is the Lisbon I speak of.

God never allow it.

That’s why I’m not asking him.

I’m asking you.

Bella not safe with you, I think.

You are absolutely… not.

(CHUCKLES)

(DUNCAN CHUCKLES) (FIREWORKS BURSTING)

(DOOR SHUTS)

May I have a moment of value time, dear God?

Of course, Bella.

I wanted to tell you big news.

Bella is dizzy with excite.

What is it?

Tonight, at midnight,

I secretly run away with one Duncan Wedderburn.

What?

You will wish to stop me.

I shall stop you.

You hold Bella too tight.

I must set forth into waters.

We can travel.

You, me, and Max whom, I will remind you,

you are betrothed to.

I will marry Max,

as he seems right for that,

but first, I shall adventure on Duncan Wedderburn

who, I think, cares little of damage to me,

but will be interesting as well.

I can’t let you go.

(FLY BUZZING)

Kiss me and set me forth.

If you do not,

Bella’s insides shall turn rotten with hate.

Hate? Hate.

MAX: Unpack those bags, Prim.

Godwin has told me your plan.

I do not blame you, Bella.

That man is a cad and a rake.

He has insidious ways

of getting under a naive woman’s skin.

It is mostly his eyes on mine.

And his hands when between Bella’s legs

and whisper words I can’t hear

but heat in my body.

MAX: Jesus, Bella.

We are engaged. I love you.

And when I return, we marriage,

and be happy as two doves on a branch.

You think I need travel hat? No!

This will not do.

It cannot!

I’ll see to this man myself.

I will beat his handsome face

into a porridge of blood and bones!

Max, you are flushed,

and I am too at sight of different Max.

I apologize, but I will not let a man

that I know has nothing but ill intent in his mind

and nothing for you in his heart trick you.

I will smash his fucking head in.

(MAX GRUNTS) (PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

MAX: Mm.

(CHUCKLES LIGHTLY)

Bella? It… (GASPS)

(MAX GRUNTING WEAKLY)

Bella.

Goodbye, later dove.

I will see you after grand adventure.

God?

(BAXTER EXHALES DEEPLY)

(PENSIVE MUSIC CONTINUES)

(ANIMAL CRUNCHING)

She’s gone.

I am having port for breakfast.

It is strangely delicious.

Why did you not stop her?

She is a being of free will.

She’s now out there. Alone.

She will be fine.

MAX: I’m a fool. I should have stopped her.

We are men of science.

This emotionality is unseemly.

I just hope she’s all right.

(INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING) (BREATHING HEAVILY)

(MOANING)

(CONTINUES MOANING)

(PANTING)

(MUSIC STOPS)

DUNCAN: You are the most beautiful woman

I’ve ever seen.

I will not lie, I have been with many.

Mrs. Prim said you were wolf

with scent of hundred women on you.

She undersells it.

Okay. Oysters.

Have you had them before?

I have not.

Shuck, chuck and bubble.

DUNCAN: Mm.

Mm.

(EXHALES) Rollicking.

(EXHALES) Rollicking.

Wait. Bella.

DUNCAN: So, nuns and monks

would starch their clothes with egg whites

and, with the yolks, make these tarts.

Now, how to eat them?

I will guess through the mouth.

They must not be eaten dainty flake by dainty flake,

but inhaled with gusto, like life itself.

BELLA: (MOUTH FULL) Incredible.

Who made these? We need more.

No more. One’s enough. Any more is too much.

It’s siesta time.

What is siesta?

(INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING) (MOANING AND PANTING)

(INTENSE MUSIC CONTINUES)

(PIGEON COOING)

Why do people not just do this

all the time?

(DUNCAN CHUCKLES)

Well, at the risk of being immodest,

you’ve just been thrice fucked by the very best.

It’s probable no other man

would ever bring you to the raptures I have.

I feel bad for you.

Well, then it will just be you I do furious jumping with.

(CHUCKLES) Furious jumping?

I love that.

I’m rested.

Let us go again.

Again?

Unfortunately,

even I have my limits.

Men cannot keep coming back for more.

It is a physiological problem?

A weakness in men?

Mm… Well…

Perhaps so.

You’d be advised, if it’s not too late,

not to fall in love with me.

I have very little to offer

in the way of constancy.

Just adventure.

I see.

Let us sleep.

(DUNCAN SNORING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Taxi, madam?

(BELLS CLANGING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC CONTINUES)

(WONDROUS MUSIC PLAYING)

(PEOPLE TALKING INDISTINCTLY)

(WONDROUS MUSIC CONTINUES)

(WONDROUS MUSIC CONTINUES)

(WOMAN SINGING PASSIONATELY IN PORTUGUESE)

(SOFT GUITAR MUSIC PLAYING)

(SINGING CONTINUES)

(CONTINUES SINGING)

(SINGING CONTINUES)

(MUFFLED WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

(SINGING FADES)

(MAN AND WOMAN ARGUING IN PORTUGUESE)

(UNSETTLING MUSIC PLAYS) (ARGUING CONTINUES)

(WOMAN YELLS)

(ARGUING CONTINUES)

(PERPLEXING MUSIC PLAYING)

(OBJECT SMASHES)

(MUFFLED MAN YELLING AND GRUNTING)

(RETCHING)

(COUGHS, SPITS)

(COUGHS)

(PERPLEXING MUSIC CONTINUES)

Good evening…

Duncan Wedderburn.

Bella, where were you? You disappeared.

I did not.

Nobody can just disappear.

What?

Can they? Disappear?

No, of course not.

What the fuck are you talking…

Where were you?

I wanted a tart and then an adventure befell me.

I did not know how to return and then I heard it.

The tram.

I will walk to the noise, and I found it.

Amazement to Bella.

Explorer bloods in me.

Bella, it’s dangerous to go out without me.

I have adventured it

and found nothing but sugar and violence.

It is most charming.

I am fine.

Now, I must lie down and you must lie down on top of me

and do more furious jumping.

(ELEGANT MUSIC PLAYING) (LIVELY CHATTER)

Kitty.

Did you see the new show in London by Wilde?

Marvelously witty.

(CHUCKLES) I loved it.

“A handbag.”

(BOTH LAUGH)

Bella.

What?

Why I keep it in my mouth if it is revolting?

(DUNCAN CHUCKLES)

I have said that before to Gerald.

(ALL LAUGH)

If you catch my drift. DUNCAN: Uh…

You are wicked.

Oh. Because you mean his penis.

Duncan’s can sometimes be salty.

(CHUCKLES AWKWARDLY)

Good God, Bella.

(BABY CRYING)

I must go punch that baby.

(CONTINUES CRYING) (BELLA TUTTING)

DUNCAN: Bella.

Your behavior is unconscionable.

Will you behave?

The food was cacking my throat,

the baby annoying,

and the woman boring with words.

You will rejoin the table

and will confine yourself to the following three phrases,

“How marvelous!”, “Delighted”

and “How did they make the pastry so crisp?” Yes?

You are hurting Bella.

Sorry.

Reason does not penetrate.

Let us go.

Ow.

Are you enjoying Lisbon, Bella?

Delighted.

(CHUCKLES)

Kitty, how is your dear father?

KITTY: He’s very unwell.

I fear he will not see the year out.

DUNCAN: Oh. How marvelous.

How did they get the pastry so crisp?

(STABS FOOD)

(BELCHING)

(BUBBLE POPS)

Good God.

What is it?

From her.

“Me good. Lisbon.

“Sugar tart lick me all day.”

At least I hope that’s all one sentence, anyway.

Do you think they’re… Fucking?

Yes.

Also,

fellating a tram.

(EXHALES)

(CLEARS THROAT)

(CHATTERING AND MUSIC PLAYING IN OTHER ROOM)

(DOOR OPENS) (GASPS)

Does your head ache too, Duncan Wedderburn?

And I also am starving for dinner.

Where the fuck were you?

Victoria Blessington?

I haven’t seen you for years.

BELLA: And you still have not,

as I am Bella Baxter,

strange feathered lady.

I apologize. I could’ve sworn you were she.

Hmm.

Right.

Shall we?

(ELEGANT MUSIC PLAYING) The steak, the fish,

little caramel things in pots

that old spotted people over there have.

I don’t want caramel in pots.

Of course not. That was all for Bella.

Order at your whim.

You are cross at Bella’s outings and adventures.

And yet we must discover by whim,

as spoken by Duncan Wedderburn to Bella Baxter,

day one of Lisbon love affair.

Touche.

Understand me never lived outside God’s house.

What?

So, Bella so much to discover,

and your sad face

makes me discover angry feelings for you.

(DRUMS POUNDING)

Right.

(CROWD LAUGHS LAND WHOOPS)

I have become the very thing I hate,

a grasping succubus of a lover.

(DRUMS CONTINUE POUNDING)

I’ve pried many of them off me and now I’m it.

Fuck!

(PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS POUNDING RHYTHMICALLY)

(PERCUSSION MUSIC CONTINUES)

(SHOES THUMPING RHYTHMICALLY)

You, like me, are a creature of freedom in the moments.

What do you keep doing that for?

A man over there repeated blinks at me.

I blink back.

For polites, I think.

(DUNCAN GRUNTING)

We are going to dance in town. Please join us.

I have never danced in town.

(GASPS)

BELLA: Duncan! DUNCAN: Can’t!

(BELLA GRUNTS)

(BELLA GROWLS)

(PEOPLE EXCLAIM)

You’re quite mad.

Stop talking as your sounds make Bella angry!

I will not stop talking.

If I have something to say, I’ll…

Ouch. (GROANING)

(BELLA MOANS)

DUNCAN: All right.

(BOTH BREATHING HEAVILY)

What’s this?

Oh.

A man was teaching me chess,

and he said he thought I would probably have

the softest skin he had ever touched.

And I said, if I did,

it would be the inner thighs to test,

as that is where the epidermis is at its most fine.

So we tested,

and it was the softest ever.

I wondered if perhaps they’re not equal in softitude.

Indeed they were not.

So I made sure to note it, remembering which was which.

What of the tongue play you were about to perform?

Is that not happening?

(GRUNTS)

(EXHALES)

You…

You are troubled.

Did he lie with you?

No, we were against a wall.

Did you furious jump him?

No… (SIGHS)

…he just fast-licked my clitoris.

I had the heat that needed release,

so at my request, it was.

(GRUNTS)

You, too, may tongue play me,

so I’m not understanding this complicated feeling.

(SOBS SOFTLY)

Are you now crying?

(CRYING OUT)

What a confusing person you are, Duncan Wedderburn.

A liver.

(TOOL CLATTERS)

Mm. A small incision

is all that is needed.

(STUDENTS GASP)

I was chloroforming goats all morning.

I may have ingested too much.

I am going to venture to suggest

you are upset by Bella’s absence.

The liters of port,

the sobbing I hear at night.

Good God, man! You prattle like an imbecile.

She is gone!

I am a man of science.

I just need to engage in, and continue, the project.

That is all. I must go on to the next thing.

Our feelings must be put aside.

Do you think my father could have branded me

with hot irons on the genitals the way he did

if he could not put science and progress first?

Branded you?

Let us find a body.

A… A what?

(WHIMSICAL MUSIC PLAYING)

Hello. Good morning.

Good morning, darling.

I haven’t been very supportive of your adventurous spirit.

So I have a surprise for you.

(DUNCAN CHUCKLES)

Get in.

(WHIMSICAL MUSIC CONTINUES)

We changed hotels? Look out the window, Bella.

(SHIP HORN SOUNDS)

We’re on boat? Indeed.

You aim to trap Bella at sea.

I aim to give you a new adventure.

I suppose it’s true you’ll be easier to find.

Come, disrobe me.

Ride me.

And we’ll then have cocktails on foredeck.

DUNCAN: Bella.

(KNOCKING AT DOOR)

Bella.

(KNOCKING AT DOOR) Bella.

(DOOR THUDS) Bella!

BELLA: Blue. Blue. Blue.

(SHIP GROANS)

(PIANO KEY BLARES)

(HULL CREAKING)

(SHIP GROANS)

(SEAGULLS CALLING)

(WINGS FLUTTERING)

STEWARD: Shit on me? (SEAGULL SCREECHING)

Fucker! (BONES SNAP)

Madam.

When do we stop?

Athens. Three days.

(ENGINE CHUGGING SOFTLY)

(ENIGMATIC MUSIC PLAYS)

That woman’s on fire, look.

(INHALES DEEPLY)

I know you’re upset with me.

Forgive my kidnapping of you, but it was for love.

A romantic jape. Don’t be such a cunt about it.

I want a drink. Of course, my darling.

The ship is fun, a whole world to explore.

Do you love me? I love you.

Describe the elements I should be looking for

within myself to be sure.

You just feel it or not.

So it is no evidence base, as God would say.

So how judge it empirically?

What the fuck are you talking about? Who are you?

You don’t know what bananas are,

you’ve never heard of chess,

and yet you know what “empirically” means.

Bella wants a drink. I said twice now.

I’ve never felt anything like this.

Is this true for you?

I suppose, empirically it is.

I’m out of ink.

Oh.

Then ink you shall have, my love.

BELLA: Hello, interesting older lady.

I must touch your hair.

I also noticed your hair.

Just like silk on a translucent, glowing egg.

That is fancy words that excite me somehow.

WOMAN: I saw you’re with handsome over there.

White teeth and a hard cock.

Duncan Wedderburn.

His teeth are also hard. His penis is also white.

Good lay, I hope. He is my only.

But I find him to elicit exceptional sensations

throughout my whole body that leave me yelping happily.

I also wish to dash his body, form, cadaver, into the sea.

Is this man jumping on your body?

(CHUCKLES) WOMAN: No, he is not.

I haven’t been bedded in 20 years.

What?

That is terrible.

It doesn’t concern me greatly.

As years have passed,

what’s in between my ears is my big concern.

What’s in between my legs…

much less so.

A desperate rationalization, Martha.

Oh, this is Harry Astley.

Don’t take what he says too much to heart.

He’s a cynic.

Madam.

I am Bella Baxter.

I do not know what this “cynic” is.

Bella. (CLEARS THROAT)

Ink.

Duncan Wedderburn, I have made friends, colleagues, comrades.

Harry Astley.

BELLA: This is Martha.

She is my new friend who has not been fucked in 20 years.

Is that not astonishment?

I hope you use your hand between your legs

to keep yourself happy. (MARTHA CHUCKLES)

Good God, Bella, you cannot speak like this.

Polites of society. I forgot.

HARRY: Polite society

will destroy you. BELLA: It will?

Yeah, there… there’s some truth to that.

MARTHA: We all agreed on that.

As to your enquiry on my hand.

Occasionally, yes.

That is much reassuring news.

We shall all dine together. Well, actually…

We are all on a ship and cannot escape,

and there is a world to enjoy, traverse, circumnavigate.

Or can she not have friends, Mr. Wedderburn?

(CHUCKLES) Delighted.

Marry me.

What?

I meant to throw you aside.

A few months and send you packing, but I cannot.

Say you’ll marry me.

No one’s ever captured my heart. You have.

It is tricky,

as I am engaged to Mr. Max McCandles.

What?

My hand has taken by another.

It is a saying I heard, but did not understand.

You do not take just the hand, but all, do you not?

You ran away with me from him.

A recounting of events,

the point of which is elusive to me.

You chose me over him.

For now.

For fun.

I’ll fucking throw you overboard!

So you wish to marry me or kill me?

Is that the proposal? No.

(VOICE BREAKS) Going to the casino.

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

BAXTER: Uh, that’s fine.

MAX: She is coming along.

BAXTER: Let’s try again.

Gross motor skills will develop slowly,

but you will progress fast.

MAX: Felicity.

Not that fast.

(CRYING)

I am reading Emerson.

He speaks about the improvement of men.

I do not know why he does not give advice to women.

Perhaps he does not know any.

Try and read Goethe.

Philosophy is a waste of time, Bella.

Really? Say more.

No, no, Harry, you wretch.

It is integral.

People and society can be improved.

It is the goal of all to improve,

advance, progress, grow.

I know this in me,

and I am sure I am indicative of all.

Trust me, you are definitely unique, Bella, in all ways.

But this improvement through philosophy

is people trying to run away

from the fact that we are all cruel beasts.

Born that way, die that way.

It is a dark view of things, Harry.

Bella…

let us take the air…

in our cabin.

But these two are fighting,

and ideas are banging around in Bella’s head and heart

like lights in a storm.

DUNCAN: Oh.

You’re always reading now, Bella.

You’re losing some of your adorable way of speaking.

BELLA: I am a changingable feast,

as are all of we.

Apparently according to Emerson,

disagreed with by Harry.

DUNCAN: Come, come. Just come.

You are in my sun.

What?

(ENGINE CHUGGING)

(SHIP GROANS SOFTLY)

(CHATTER AND LAUGHTER)

Come.

Mm-mm. Busy drinking heavily.

(BALL CLATTERS)

(DUNCAN SIGHS)

Busy losing heavily.

(SNAPPING FINGERS)

(DUNCAN SMOOCHING)

I must go meet Martha.

Martha.

She is the problem.

I’ll throw that perfumed bag of flesh overboard.

I dare you.

(GRUNTS) (THRILLING MUSIC PLAYING)

(BELLA CHUCKLING EXCITEDLY)

DUNCAN: Martha!

Where is she?

Where are you, fuck.

Where is she?

HARRY: Where are you going? She’s going over the side.

MARTHA: Oh, marvelous!

I never imagined being murdered.

How dramatic.

Well, she seems happy to die.

I’m sorry for getting in your way.

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(MOCKINGLY) Oh! (DUNCAN GRUNTING)

Oh!

Exciting.

Oh… Whoa, whoa, whoa…

Oh! Ooh, ooh. (LAUGHS)

Oh. Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa… (CONTINUES GRUNTING)

MARTHA: Hyah. (DUNCAN GROANS)

(CHUCKLES)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC CONTINUES) (BELLA LAUGHING)

I’ll be in the bar.

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

(KNOCKING)

BELLA: You have made me think, cogitate,

perambulate on ideas that are wrong,

erroneous and nonsensically annoying

that lead me not to sleep.

So…

You say all are cruel.

And I disagree, disavow,

and say no not.

But when with Duncan,

the cruel just bubbles up in me.

That shows good judgment.

He is a pretty moron.

No.

I do not wish to be cruel.

I must improve this aspect of myself.

You don’t know the world.

And you fear it.

I do not fear it.

Do you want to see what the world is really like?

I’ll show you.

Yes.

Of course.

(DISTANT SINGING)

(SEAGULLS SQUAWKING)

(ENGINE HUMMING)

(BROODING MUSIC PLAYING)

(BROODING MUSIC FADES)

(DISTANT WAILING)

Do you hear that?

What is it?

(TEARFUL WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

(DRAMATIC OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYS)

Lot of dead babies. Oh.

Must be hot.

We must go help them.

HARRY: How will we do that?

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

(BELLA CRYING) We go down there,

they’ll quite rightfully rope us, rob us, and rape us.

And if they were here and we were there,

we’d do the same to them.

(BREATH SHUDDERING)

Bella.

Bella.

Bella. (OMINOUS MUSIC BUILDS)

(INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(SOBBING)

(HARRY GROANING)

(CONTINUES SOBBING)

(INTENSE MUSIC CONTINUES)

(INTENSE MUSIC CONTINUES)

(SNIFFLING)

(INTENSE MUSIC FADES)

We are casting off, ma’am.

But I have to go back.

I… I must give this money to the poor near the hotel,

in what they call a slum.

We’re staying ashore, ma’am.

We could take care of that for you.

You can? Of course.

It is generous of you.

They need money.

Everyone does.

Thank you.

You! Get me the captain.

Now we’ll find this fucking thief.

Bella!

We’ve been robbed!

I… I won.

I won everything

like never before.

And now it’s gone.

BELLA: You’ve not been robbed.

I took it. For what?

I took it.

I’m so tired.

Or maybe just my spirit is.

My soul has been buckled, crumpled,

flattened, Duncan Wedderburn,

by the sights I have seen.

(SOBS)

STEWARD: So, no need for the captain then, sir?

Fuck off before I break all your teeth.

(BLOWS RASPBERRIES)

Indeed, sir.

(CONTINUES SOBBING)

(DUNCAN SIGHS)

Where is it?

You hid it for safety.

I was drunk and foolishly left it everywhere.

What a relief. (CHUCKLES)

I did not hide it.

I gave it to those poor people out there.

Money is its own form of sickness,

and all the scarcity of it.

And who am I,

lying in a feather bed,

while dead babies

lie in a ditch?

(CONTINUES SOBBING)

Duncan.

You what?

I am expecting a hug of solace.

You…

I need to offer something to the world.

And yet I have nothing.

Except some money.

It is a bad day for Bella Baxter.

(SHOUTING) Where is my fucking money?

I just told you.

I gave it away to the poor.

(KNOCK AT DOOR)

I thought I told you to fuck off!

(CLEARS THROAT) The steward informs me

that you may not have sufficient funds

to make good your account, sir.

Well, I… BELLA: That is probably true.

I gave it all to some nice men

to pass on

to the slum poor. (SOBS)

OFFICER: You’ll be put ashore at the next port

and confined to crew’s rations until then, sir.

Good evening. (YELLS) How dare you?

(DUNCAN GRUNTS, GROANS)

BAXTER: “Dead, blind babies

“bit Harry.

“My mouth

“was full of blood.”

Poor Bella.

She is a ruin.

(GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

BELLA: How’s your hand? HARRY: It’s fine.

I’m sorry.

BELLA: You were trying to help me understand.

No. I actually wanted to hurt you.

Couldn’t bear to see

such dumb, beautiful happiness in someone.

It was cruel of me.

I am not sorry.

If I know the world, I can improve it.

You can’t.

That is the real point.

Don’t accept the lie of religion,

socialism,

capitalism.

We are a fucked species.

Know it. Hope is smashable.

Realism is not.

Protect yourself with the truth.

I realize what you are now, Harry.

Just a broken little boy

who cannot bear the pain of the world.

I suppose so.

(KISSES)

Goodbye, Harry.

We get thrown off in Marseille.

Why do you stay with him?

I always think it will be better.

‘Course you do.

(SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

I have heard great things of the beauty of Paris.

(DOG GRUNTS)

I’ll fucking kick your dog to death.

(DOG WHINES)

Fucking…

Paris with no money.

What do you suggest we do, Bella?

BELLA: I will get us a hotel.

Do not worry.

Uh-huh. With what? We have no money.

Is it not an interesting experiment?

We have nothing.

How will we live now? I don’t know!

Exactly, that is the experiment.

We are now the poor.

Also, many adventurers have faced these odds.

Robinson Crusoe, for example.

Selfish, thoughtless, careless bitch.

I’m not thoughtless, Duncan.

And while it is true my ability

to think things through to the logical conclusions is not

strong,

I did help those suffering people.

I have ruined us,

as you pointed out,

but I do believe my actions come from a good place.

Shut the fuck up.

I will get us a hotel.

Good afternoon, madam.

Good day, my fresh, darling English Rose.

Is this a hotel?

We have rooms.

Are you looking for work?

How much is a room?

I’ll charge you 10 francs an hour.

You charge them 30.

Everyone’s happy.

I see.

Monsieur Chapelle.

Fresh from London.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

Enchante. Hello.

(BOTH CONVERSE IN FRENCH)

Merci.

So, off you go.

At this point, I am confused.

You’re not here to work?

Oh, come on.

Lie with him, let him cock you a bit

and make some nice francs.

I see.

He would pay me for this?

Yes.

If you need money,

it is the shortest route to it.

I have never been cocked by another man,

and yet have wondered on that.

And am in need of funds.

It is, I believe, a confluence of circumstances

I regard as almost fate-like.

Let us do this.

Room 16.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

What is your name?

Mysterious.

Should we warm me up a bit… (GASPS)

Oh.

(BELLA GRUNTING SOFTLY)

(MOANING)

Merci.

(CHILDREN LAUGHING AND CHATTERING)

(DISTANT CHURCH BELL TOLLING)

BELLA: Good day, sir.

Eclair au chocolat?

I’ve come into some money and some enlightenment.

You stole it?

You’ve always said you’re the best bedman in the world,

and I have never known another,

so I knew not whether this was true.

But now I do.

And he was terrible

and made ungodly noises as he thrust himself into me.

And a mere three thrusts, Duncan Wedderburn,

was all he could manage.

I stifled a laugh,

out of polites, of course.

I took his money. I thanked him.

I laughed all the way to buy us these eclairs,

and I thought so fondly,

remembering the fierce sweaty nights of ours.

You fucked for money?

And as an experiment.

And it is good for our relationship

as it gladdens my heart toward you.

My heart has been a bit dim

on your weepy, sweary person lately.

You are a monster. A whore and a monster.

A demon sent from hell

to rip my spirit to shreds.

To punish my tiny sins

with a tsunami of destruction.

To take my heart and pull it like taffy

to ruin me.

I look at you, and I see nothing but ugliness.

That last bit was uncalled for and makes no sense,

as your odes to my beauty have been boring

but constant.

And the simple act

of letting a strange man ride on me

has erased all that?

DUNCAN: Fuck!

You whored yourself.

Which you are now going to explain to me is bad.

Can I never win with you?

It is the worst thing women can do.

We should definitely never marry.

I am a flawed, experimenting person

and I will need a husband with a more forgiving disposition.

Cunt!

I can now see you are not that.

Our adventure is clearly over.

I shall book you a passage back to London.

You had money

this whole time?

It is God’s money.

For emergencies.

It has been a fucking emergency for weeks now!

I believed in you the whole time,

that you would rise to the occasion.

But now I see that was a mistake,

and there’s clearly something broken in you.

You broke that something in me!

I feel this conversation has become circular.

Cunt!

BELLA: Madam Swiney, I have examined my situation.

I need sex and money.

I could take a lover,

another Wedderburn who would keep me

but may require an awful lot of attention.

Or else it’s 20 minutes at a time,

and the rest of my day is free to study on the world

and the improvement of it.

Hence, I seek employment

at your musty-smelling establishment

of good-time fornication.

A woman plotting her course to freedom.

How delightful.

Come.

(ENTRY BELL JINGLES)

Ah, Monsieur Saveur.

SAVEUR: A filet mignon.

A prime cut.

Merci.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

Bella.

Say “formidable” at the end.

House rules.

(SAVEUR SPEAKS FRENCH)

Is that smell you?

(PANTING RAPIDLY)

(SAVEUR GRUNTS)

(GRUNTS)

Formidable.

Merci.

(DOOR CLOSES)

(DOOR OPENS)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) For the smell.

And tea. Just because tea is nice.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

Merci.

It was brutal

in a strangely not unpleasant way.

Pamphlet. (SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Read. What is that?

Une personne qui veut…

Change the world. (SPEAKS FRENCH)

Make it better. A better world.

Then I am that too.

(ENTRY BELL JINGLES)

Madam Swiney,

this lineup system,

you really expect me to go upstairs with a man

even if I find him distasteful

and therefore am sad

when I let him furious jump me?

That is the way it is, my darling.

Gosh, you look pretty.

How it agrees with you to be ravaged.

I suppose so.

(SPEAKS FRENCH) Oui.

Oui, monsieur Mersault. Bella.

So, would you not prefer it if the women chose,

as it would be a sign of enthusiasm toward you?

Um, you wouldn’t have the vague sense

that they are in a state of horror

when you jump them.

(EXCLAIMS IN FRENCH) (EXPLAINING IN FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Bella is new and may have a mental illness.

(EXPLAINING IN FRENCH)

As God, my father, says,

it is only the way it is until we discover the new way it is,

and then that is the way it is

until we discover the new way it is,

and so it goes until the world is no longer flat,

electricity lights the night,

and shoes are no longer tied with ribbons.

(AGREES IN FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) As a socialist, I agree entirely.

Formidable.

Toinette, you have such a clever mouth. (CHUCKLES)

Monsieur Mersault will enjoy it for free.

Go. Now.

Bella, a moment in my office.

You have the most delicious looking lobes.

Thank you.

I must…

(GROANING)

(SHUDDERS) Oh, I am sorry. I drew blood.

Here.

I sometimes give in to myself

when I see beauty, young beauty.

For one day, my dear,

you will be a wrinkled, old husk.

And no one will want you either to pay you for it

or to have it for free.

I still believe everyone would be happier if we could choose.

An idealist.

Like me.

How delightful you are.

But we must give in to the demands

of the world sometimes.

Grapple with it, try to defeat it.

So you believe as me? Of course.

But some men enjoy that you do not like it.

What?

That is… Sick.

But good business.

Come with me.

My grandchild.

Sick and poorly, and requiring much doctoring.

My choice of giving you choice will jeopardize the business.

Her health. Her life.

Do you want that, Bella? Of course not.

You don’t? You’re so lovely.

(GASPS)

I thought you were going for my lobes.

(SWINEY LAUGHS) (CHUCKLES)

We must work.

We must make money.

But more than that, we must experience everything,

not just the good.

But degradation, horror, sadness…

This makes us whole, Bella.

Makes us people of substance,

not flighty, untouched children.

Then we can know the world.

And when we know the world,

the world is ours.

I want that.

Now,

go and fuck someone

and bring me 10 francs.

First, I suggest a short quiz.

A quiz?

You tell me a childhood memory.

(TRANSLATES TO FRENCH)

Then I tell a joke. Toc toc.

Then a quick sniff,

and if necessary, a quick douse in lavender oil.

And all of this will enhance the experience,

making it formidable.

Toc toc.

Toc toc.

Non, I tell the joke.

You the memory.

Mm. Le souvenir.

(RECOUNTING MEMORY IN FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) When you were little in Greece,

you fell from your bicycle?

Oui.

(CONTINUES RECOUNTING MEMORY IN FRENCH)

BELLA: Mm.

(IN ENGLISH) Blood. Down my leg.

Mm.

“Joie.” Joy?

You watched the blood with joy.

Oui. Knock, knock.

Qui c’est? Fromage.

Fromage qui?

Cheese to meet you.

(LAUGHING)

(CHUCKLES)

(CONTINUES LAUGHING)

You know it.

You smell okay.

Let us fuck.

(INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING) (MOANING)

(INTENSE MUSIC STOPS)

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

(CHEWS, SLURPS)

(INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING) (MOANING)

(INTENSE MUSIC STOPS)

God gave you a gift, my friend.

(REPLIES IN FRENCH)

(PERPLEXING MUSIC PLAYING)

(DOCTOR SPEAKING FRENCH)

Very inelegant work.

This is what you do when you’re homesick?

(INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING) (MAN GRUNTING)

(INTENSE MUSIC STOPS) You wish what?

My boys are of an age for education. Sexual.

I will demonstrate.

I see.

(FATHER EXPLAINING IN FRENCH)

At times.

(CONTINUES EXPLAINING IN FRENCH)

BELLA: Shall I lay, bend, astride?

Let’s start simple, please. BELLA: Mm.

(FATHER GRUNTING) (INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(EXPLAINING IN FRENCH)

(FATHER GRUNTS)

(EXPLAINING IN FRENCH)

(GRUNTING)

(CONTINUES EXPLAINING IN FRENCH)

(FATHER GRUNTING)

(QUESTIONING IN FRENCH)

To aid things along,

a finger in the arse. FATHER: No.

Or a slight choking may do it.

(FATHER GRUNTS LOUDLY)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(FATHER PANTING)

(MUFFLED MAN WAILING)

(WAILING GROWS LOUDER)

(CONTINUES WAILING LOUDLY)

Go home! (CHUCKLES)

(GROANING)

(SOBS) (DOG BARKING)

Bella!

Madam Swiney was right.

I am discovering parts of myself hitherto unknown.

It is a way to look at it.

The variety of desires being made manifest is fascinating.

Have you had the man

who puts a wedge of pineapple in your mouth

and covers you in dust?

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

DUNCAN: Bella.

I’m almost ready to forgive you.

I’ve booked our berths home,

and I’ve told Mother to prepare our wedding bed.

Did you fuck that guy with hooks for hands?

You did. I know!

I beat the tar out of that guy.

Duncan. I thought you left.

DUNCAN: Back to the ship, but started to ache and vomit,

so I’m here to save you.

Hello, Duncan.

(BOTH SPEAK FRENCH)

Go home, Duncan.

Our time has ended.

I look at you and feel nothing

but the lingering question of how did I ever want you?

TOINETTE: Oh…

And we must go to the meeting of socialists.

DUNCAN: You’re whores.

We are our own means of production.

Go away.

(SNOWBALL THUDS)

Foot.

Paint, foot.

MAX: Very good.

(DOOR OPENS)

Language is slow but improving.

Paint. Foot.

Genius.

Can you not be so cruel to her?

I made a mistake with Bella.

I allowed feelings to develop.

There are none for her.

She is no different to the chicken dog.

Foot.

BAXTER: It is better this way, perhaps,

and gives some insight into my father’s coolness to me.

It was a necessity of science.

Good God, man.

Foot. I do not expect you

to understand, village doctor.

By the way, I need you to operate on me.

Shall I put a beating heart in your monstrous form?

If you have time

while taking…

this out.

(TOOL CLACKS)

I’ll remove some cysts from around the tumor.

No need. You may close me up.

It has spread. I see tiny polyps.

I am dying.

How to break it to the patient, eh? (CHUCKLES)

Baxter… (FUMBLES)

Do not cry into the wound!

You’ll kill me faster with sepsis.

Quiet now.

And close me up.

Find her.

(KNOCK AT DOOR)

I am closed.

SWINEY: Hot chocolate, my dear.

And pain au chocolat.

You are my favorite.

I have heard you say that to the others.

We are a machine you feed

with compliments and chocolate.

You are my children I feed with love.

Something terrible has happened, Swiney.

I feel almost nothing.

My empathy is creeping toward what I would describe

as contemptuous rage.

This is fabulous.

It is?

You’re in the dark period.

Before light and wisdom come to you.

You must forge through it,

and once on the other side,

you will be grateful to this moment,

but you must keep going.

I see.

(BELLA SHOUTING IN PAIN)

(MOANING) (GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(STIRRING MUSIC SWELLING) (MOANING)

(GASPING RAPIDLY)

(STIRRING MUSIC FADES)

(SINGING IN FRENCH)

(FAINT MUFFLED CHATTER)

(CONVERSE IN FRENCH)

You’ve got a baby scar.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

Mine is with ma maman.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

I don’t have one.

It is an accident scar.

But you’re not the first to have made the mistake.

Why lie?

I’m not lying.

My Godwin told me himself.

(CONVERSING IN FRENCH)

Wedderburn.

(BAXTER GRUNTS)

(DOOR CLACKS) (WIND WHISTLING)

MAX: Good day, sir.

You wrote to Mr. Godwin Baxter.

DUNCAN: He has sent a demon at large into the world.

The devil’s wrapped in an alluring body

that cannot be satiated,

and a mind that picks people apart stitch by stitch

like a bloodied and burned rag doll

shat out of an elephant’s arse.

Bella.

Where is she?

Who are you?

I’m her fiance, sir.

(FARTS, CHUCKLES)

Obviously, things did not end well between you.

Did not?

She destroyed me.

Well, we’re all masters of our own ship, sir.

There’s that.

I do not like you or your words.

That Godwin Baxter.

He knew, and he set her on to me.

He trapped me.

MAX: Where is she?

DUNCAN: Would not wish her on my worst enemy.

I shall save you from her, sir.

(MAX STRUGGLING)

(DUNCAN CHUCKLES)

(DUNCAN GROANS)

(GROANS)

Forgive my frustration. Just tell me.

(CHUCKLES) It does not hurt.

I have no insides.

She hollowed me out.

My soul. My bank account!

I am a bug! A shell!

Shall we sing?

(SINGS) ♪ Oh, we are sailors… ♪

It doesn’t… (MAX GRUNTING)

Doesn’t hurt.

I do not wish it to be like this.

You force my hand.

(MOCKINGLY) “We’re all masters of our own ship.”

You cunting cunt-faced deadshit.

Please.

I ask you as politely as I can.

Where is she?

(KNOCK AT DOOR)

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

Merci.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(DRIVER CLICKS TONGUE)

(KNOCKS ON DOOR)

The whore is back.

God? BAXTER: Bella!

Max wrote me.

You are ill? I am not. I am dying.

A subtle difference,

but one I take seriously as a physician.

You are a sight and a good one.

You cannot die.

Empirical data says different.

I missed you.

I now have to lie down.

It is not all sunshine I bring.

I also bring beady eyes and hard questions.

Did I have a baby in me?

And if so, where is it?

I see.

Well, technically, you are your baby.

And also, I suppose you are your mother.

And also neither.

No memory survives.

No experiences survive.

What do you mean I am mother and daughter?

You knew and did not tell.

I… did not see good reason to.

And were too cowardly to.

A bit of that as well.

I wanted to be with you,

and I was not sure you would even understand.

And Baxter kind of makes one a prisoner to him.

And… And I am…

I’m sorry.

FELICITY: (DISTANTLY) Bam. (THUD)

Bam. (THUD)

Bam. (THUD)

Bam. (THUD)

Bam. (THUD)

Bam. (THUD)

Bam. (THUD)

Who is this?

(SINGING) ♪ Bell whore Bell whore ♪

I see you’ve introduced me then, Prim.

I like this one though. ♪ Bell whore ♪

That’s enough now, Felicity…

♪ Bell whore ♪ MRS. PRIM: Ah, f…

Fucker.

Another one?

We missed you.

Monsters.

BELLA: (SOFTLY) Oh, fucking hell.

♪ Bell whore ♪

♪ Bell whore ♪

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

BELLA: It is hard to be in the position

where one wants to hit someone

who is already in obvious pain.

BAXTER: It is a conundrum for sure.

Would you rather be a gray slab of flesh

with a fishhook in your nose?

I will feel good for a second, but bad for longer, so…

I really had a fishhook in my nose?

You did. (CHUCKLES)

So, I am your creation…

as is the other one.

Neither of you are that.

She wanders the halls with a hammer and a song,

and that is not my doing.

And I read your cards and letters home

and watched you fearlessly create Bella Baxter

with wonder.

I am finding being alive fascinating,

so I’ll forgive you the act,

but always hate the lies and trapping that followed.

Understood.

Good to see you.

You too.

Anger, confusion, and brain dissonance aside,

I missed you.

I arrived home, and I smelled the formaldehyde,

and I knew what is next.

I will be a doctor.

(CHUCKLES)

My surgery is yours.

My father once told me,

always carve with compassion.

He was a fucking idiot.

But it’s not bad advice.

He does not have long.

I know.

You’ve not mentioned our betrothal.

Um…

You were much younger.

There is no bind.

I was mesmerized by you, and Baxter took advantage.

So, you are mesmerized no more?

I am still mesmerized.

I’ve been a whore, you understand?

Mm. Cocks for money inside me.

You okay with that?

Does the whoring thing challenge the desire

for ownership that men have?

Wedderburn became much weepy and sweary

when he discovered my whoring.

I find myself merely jealous of the men’s time with you

rather than any moral aspersion against you.

It is your body, Bella Baxter.

Yours to give freely.

I generally charged 30 francs.

Well, that seems low.

Do you believe people improvable, Max?

I do.

Just as a human body can be cured of illness,

so can men and women be cured of aspect.

Will you marry me, Max McCandles?

I will.

We will need less of your tongue in the future,

but overall, most agreeable.

Mm. I… I will take that note.

And have you been checked for, um, disease?

BELLA: I have not, but I shall.

I’m enjoying this practical love we have.

Um, but I… I assure you mine is also passionate.

(CHUCKLES) You are adorable.

You always were.

(SOFT MUSIC PLAYING)

God, you are walking.

I have taken five milligrams of heroin

through the toes for pain,

amphetamines for energy,

and cocaine because I am partial to cocaine.

I’ve come here to walk you down the aisle.

(SOFT MUSIC CONTINUES)

(COUGHING)

And so, by the powers vested in me by the church,

I shall solemnize this union.

Do you, Bella Baxter, take this man as your husband?

Did we miss the part about anyone objecting to this?

Or has that been removed

in some kind of faux modernization

of the catechism?

(UNEASY MUSIC PLAYING)

(EXHALES)

Hello, Victoria.

You look well.

Do you refer to me, sir?

A man doesn’t normally introduce himself to his wife.

But if I must… (BAXTER COUGHS)

He is the God of it. (INHALES SHARPLY)

I do not know if he’s in her power or she in his.

‘Tis Devil’s work at hand. Look!

He coughs not air as a normal man but blood.

He has cancer, you fucking idiot.

Oh.

Duncan.

DUNCAN: Do not lay your eyes on me, demon!

As I was saying, General Alfred Blessington.

“Alfie” to you.

You really do not know me?

When Mr. Wedderburn put your photo in the paper…

I remembered that old bird in the hotel

called you Victoria Blessington,

and I pieced this diabolical fuckfest of a puzzle together.

You are… ALFIE: Your dear Alfie.

You left in a state of some mental addlement and hysteria

over your pregnancy.

On the discovery of your absence,

I felt disemboweled.

I have disemboweled men on the field of battle,

and I always imagined a dull, hollow throbbing,

and that is what it was like.

There’s also a stench,

but that does not apply as a metaphor here.

But here you are, my darling.

Here you are.

God.

I have no recollection of you.

I am Bella Baxter.

Hurtful.

But perhaps you’ve hit your head,

and these men have clearly taken advantage of you.

Please go, sir.

You were my husband? ALFIE: Your dear Alfie.

Bella, I’m sorry.

Actually, I would like to go.

What? Bella?

You have a carriage, sir?

Yes.

Let us go then.

BAXTER: Bella!

Let me go, God.

Max, you will not stop me.

It is good to have you back, Victoria.

(EERIE MUSIC PLAYS)

(ALFIE GRUNTS)

The servants and I have not been getting along.

I fear an uprising.

You remember David, darling?

(SNAPS FINGERS)

Allison, look who’s back.

You know me?

Tell me about myself.

Was I nice?

(WISTFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Eat.

All your favorites.

Kippers, goose,

tongue, champagne.

I’ve missed you.

What was the root of the unhappiness?

What drove her to leap off the bridge?

You hated the baby.

You called it “the monster.”

I see.

I have noticed a lack of maternal instinct.

And yet I’m happy to have you home.

How did we meet?

ALFIE: At a ball.

BELLA: Why did we like each other?

We shared a love of good times.

Watch.

Allison, soup!

(SNAPS FINGERS)

Rex! (BARKING)

(GASPS) (ALFIE LAUGHING)

Fuck! Allison,

we’ll have some cheese when you can.

(GRUNTS)

(CHUCKLES)

BELLA: A love of cruelty? Mm.

I was not a kind person, it seems.

Kind? You would never be so dull, Victoria.

Appalling idea.

Wedderburn says you were a whore.

I suspect that was part… BELLA: I was.

In Paris.

I tired of it, but it was fascinating.

Right.

These kippers are strangely delicious.

Vinegary or something.

(UNEASY MUSIC PLAYING)

Marriage is a constant challenge.

Some, we bend to, some we bend to us.

(SIGHS) I will try to forgive you for the whoring.

Your sexual hysteria was often out of hand.

And for the killing of our unborn child.

In fact, when I list the ways you’ve wronged me,

Jesus Christ himself

would probably beat your head in with a bat.

You’re blessed with a forgiving husband.

I’ve not wronged you, Alfie,

as I do not know you.

Well, you’re in luck as I’ve had a lot of experience

in the field with amnesia.

Either men who wish to forget where they were,

or a mortar exploded nearby,

ringing their cranium like a church bell.

I suggest we stick close to the house for several months,

maybe a year.

(UNEASY MUSIC CONTINUES)

Until you’ve made a full recovery.

I will leave at my leisure,

but I am flattered by your desire to trap me.

You’re not the first.

I will have to shoot you in the fucking head

if you try to leave, darling.

The front or the back of the head?

The back.

As to be sure you were leaving

and I was not being rash.

(UNEASY MUSIC CONTINUES)

I have missed you.

So, I’m a prisoner?

(SIGHS) This conversation has gone down

an unfortunate route.

I am sure you will be as happy as you were before.

As I was before when I threw myself from a bridge?

(UNEASY MUSIC CONTINUES)

I suspect you fell while looking for fish.

Why would you want to keep me here

if I do not wish to stay?

If one must drown,

let it be in the river of love.

Mm. (GUN COCKS)

David,

does that pheasant look stripped to the bone?

It was a misjudgment, sir.

I apologize.

(SIGHS)

Dessert, darling?

(UNEASY MUSIC CONTINUES)

(GATE RATTLING)

(BIRDS CAWING)

(SOMBER STRING MUSIC PLAYING)

ALFIE: It comes off easy?

MAN: Like a button on a suit.

I saw them do it in Africa with sharpened rocks,

but had my own more precise device made.

Do you want just clitoral hood

or glans as well?

ALFIE: The whole infernal packet.

DOCTOR: It will calm her no end.

This time we will get it done.

I shall get her sedated

and bring her to your surgery this evening.

(FOREBODING MUSIC PLAYING)

Victoria, darling!

Where are you?

Oh.

Perfect timing.

Martini.

BELLA: Rather not.

I would, however, like to leave.

I have found our time together interesting,

but I’ve ascertained why I jumped from a bridge.

I wish to go see my near dead God.

Adorable idea.

Unfortunately, my darling,

my life is dedicated to the taking of territory.

You are mine,

and that is the long and short of it.

I am not territory.

The root of the problem is between your legs.

I will have it off

and it will not distract and divert you anymore.

You see, a man spends his life

wrangling his sexual compulsions.

It’s a curse and yet, in some ways, his life’s work.

A woman’s life’s work is children.

I intend to rid you

of that infernal packet between your legs

and plant a seed in you straight after.

Let me explain what has happened.

Victoria, your wife,

threw herself from a bridge and died.

Godwin Baxter found her, brought her to his surgery.

He then removed the baby,

removed the brain from the baby,

transplanted it into my head and reanimated me.

Ah. I’ll bring you the file.

It’s actually quite fascinating.

However, I will keep my new life

and my lovely old clitoris, thank you.

If you’d call a carriage for me.

They talk and talk, and yet at some point,

there’s nothing left but to pull a gun.

(GUN COCKS)

(SIGHS) ‘Tis the way with women.

(UNNERVING MUSIC PLAYING)

Are you giving in?

I’d rather you shot me in the fucking heart.

I will oblige if I have to.

Drink the drink, darling.

Chloroform and gin.

(UNNERVING MUSIC CONTINUES)

In some ways, it would be a relief

to be rid of my questing self.

Sip deeply and that freedom is yours.

(GRUNTS)

(GUN FIRES) (ALFIE GROANS)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(CLEARS THROAT)

(SQUELCHING) (ALFIE GROANS)

Fuck.

(TENSE MUSIC STOPS) (SHOES SQUEAK)

(GRUNTS)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

BELLA: Max?

Max. We have to get him to surgery.

He’ll die if we don’t.

Bleeding a lot.

You’re fucking dead.

Uh, Bella, if he lives,

I do not sense he is a man who will stop.

Well, I won’t watch him bleed to death.

But I agree, he could do with improvement.

I’ve removed the bullet and stopped the bleeding.

I have the notes.

I am never happier than when I’m in here.

(BLEATS)

(SOLEMN MUSIC PLAYING)

Bella.

You’re back.

It was just a story of someone else,

not Bella Baxter.

All my life, people’s eyes looked at me,

horror, pity…

but you.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

It’s all very interesting…

what is happening.

(EXHALES DEEPLY)

(SOLEMN MUSIC CONTINUES)

(SOLEMN MUSIC FADES)

(ANIMAL QUACKING)

Merci.

Anatomy exam is making me nervous.

I’ve tested you many times. You know it.

No one knows anatomy better than you.

(BOTH SPEAK FRENCH)

Ladies, gin?

Please.

Gin?

(ANIMAL BLEATS)

We should get some water for the general.

(SMACKING LIPS)

MRS. PRIM: Felicity, water.

(DELIGHTFUL ORCHESTRAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(BLEATING)

(ALFIE BLEATS)

(DELIGHTFUL ORCHESTRAL MUSIC CONTINUES)

(DELIGHTFUL ORCHESTRAL MUSIC FADES)

(PENSIVE ORCHESTRAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(PENSIVE ORCHESTRAL MUSIC CONTINUES)

(QUIRKY STRING MUSIC PLAYING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(SOFT TAPPING)

(CHIMES RING)

(HIGH-PITCHED WHINING)

(ELECTRICITY CRACKLES) (WHINING STOPS)

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