The scene is of a room at night. Faint, shuddering snoring can be heard rumbling in the background. A television sits upon a table with a sofa facing the audience. NO1 sits on the couch, holding their head in despair.
NO1: Every night! I just can’t stand it!
(NO2 walks in, and NO1 rises to greet them)
NO1: You made it!
NO1: It’s late.
NO2: Is it?
NO1: Very. He’s already asleep.
NO2: Well, I got lost.
NO1: Snoring away, like always. God! There he goes.
NO2: This whole area’s a maze. The fiends responsible for the mess of roads out there have ensured that you can’t take two steps without running into another four-way junction or dead end. I should think King Minos would have profited from the committee’s advice.
NO1: It’s like an airplane landing, night after night. The neighbours probably think they’ve come under a flight path.
Did you say Minos?
NO2: That’s the one. Stout fellow with a minotaur problem. I was only saying that he would have done better to entrust his labyrinth to the sly fiends who paved this suburb. A labyrinth built by those devious minds could have held a dozen minotaurs and their families, easily.
NO1 (absently): Oh, yes, yes.
(cocks head, shudders)
It’s like a freight train on repeat! Not a moment of rest.
NO2: Why do you do that?
NO1: Do what?
NO2: Go on like that. About the snoring.
NO1: It drives me crazy! In, out, in, out, every single night!
NO2: Buy earplugs, then.
NO1: I have! Don’t you think I’ve tried that?
NO1: The sound pierces. It penetrates my every defence.
NO2: Is there nowhere you can go?
NO1 (bitterly): This house has wonderful acoustics.
NO2: It can’t be this bad all the time.
NO1: No. It’s often worse.
(Both fall silent. As if to illustrate the point, the snoring swells, punctuated by several sharp snorts, before subsiding to its previous state)
NO2: Hmm. I begin to grasp the situation.
NO1: Dreadful, isn’t it?
NO2: It’s offputting.
NO1: I can’t even think.
NO1 (with visible effort): Anyway. Thanks for coming over so late.
NO2: Not a problem.
(produces a USB drive)
I brought the movies.
(NO2 proceeds to insert the drive in the TV and fiddle around with a remote while NO1 sprawls on the couch)
NO1: Nothing like a mindless Japanese monster movie to pass the time.
NO2 (without turning): Will he mind?
NO2: You know.
(jerks head towards the snoring)
NO1 (laughs bitterly): Will he mind? Listen, he can sleep through anything. Car alarms are the choir of sweet angels that lay him to his rest.
NO2: All that? At least if we do manage to wake the beast, it will end the infernal racket.
NO1: Amen to that!
(The exaggerated sounds and voices of a 1940s-style Japanese monster movie – Gojira or similar – begins to play, and NO2 retreats to the couch. It’s hard to hear over the snoring, which intensifies)
NO1: He knows!
NO2: Rather hard to hear, isn’t it?
NO1: I just can’t ever enjoy myself around here.
(silence, except for the strained sounds of the movie and the omnipresent snoring)
NO2 (eventually): Why don’t you move out?
NO1: I can’t.
NO2: But why not?
NO1: It’s too expensive, that’s why. Real estate being what it is. Haven’t you been reading the papers? Foreign investment is driving us out of the market.
NO2: Then how can you afford this place?
NO1: It’s cheaper when you share.
NO2: No, I mean, why not move in with some different people? Find a new crowd, a new way of living. Snore-free.
NO1: It wouldn’t be right. I can’t just abandon him.
NO2: But living here makes you miserable!
NO1: He’d never forgive me, after all we’ve been through.
NO2 (raising hands defensively): Alright, alright. Have it your way. Let’s just watch the film.
(Silence again, though neither NO1 nor NO2 look at all comfortable, unable to relax with the grating snores)
NO1 (agitated): Dammit!
Besides, I’ve never been good at living with others.
NO2: You? I don’t believe it.
NO1: It’s true. I just don’t click with many people.
NO2 (incredulous): And you click with him?
NO1: Yeah, well, I mean, I guess. We rarely argue, if that’s what you mean. And he cleans up after himself.
NO2: There’s something in that.
NO1: Plus, after all we’ve been through, it just wouldn’t be right. Me abandoning him, that is. He’s always been there for me, when he’s able, and he’s not so bad once you get to know him. If it weren’t for –
NO2: I know.
(A loud snort from the back)
NO1: A gunshot in a blasted tunnel!
NO2: Calm down.
NO1 (snapping): ‘Calm down!’ you say! ‘Calm down!’ It’s all right for you, isn’t it? You don’t have to live with it!
NO2: Well neither do you! Quit whining and do something about it!
NO1: How about you take your stupid, worthless, and –
(anger vanishing, sinks down on sofa with head in hands, defeated)
He’d never forgive me.
NO2: He’s not your bloody child. He’s a 24-year-old adult human who is perfectly capable of looking after himself. This isn’t healthy.
NO1: I know! But I just can’t leave, not after everything. We went to school together, for christ’s sake!
NO2: He’s driving you loony.
NO1: Let’s just watch the movie, okay?
NO2: But –
NO2: Fine! If we can even hear it.
(They direct their attention to the screen, sullenly. A number of seconds pass before the hitherto steady snoring grows strained and climaxes mightily in a collection of gurgling, choking sounds that die off into nothing. The pair look at each other and NO2 lowers the volume of the movie)
(They look at each other again. Their conversation is conducted in whispers)
NO2: D’you think he’s dead?
NO1: I don’t know.
(Only the murmur of the movie remains)
NO2: It’s eerie, this silence.
NO1: Quiet. Can you hear anything?
NO2 (listening): Nothing. Just when you least expect it, silence swoops upon you.
NO1: Should we do something?
NO2: Like what?
NO1: I don’t know. Check on him?
NO2: Why? He’s probably fine.
NO1: Sure. But –
NO2 (voice rising slightly): Oh, who cares? Let it go. Perhaps a God resides in Heaven and has cured him of his affliction, as Jesus did the leper. Either way, we shouldn’t look the gift horse in the eye.
NO1: I’m going to check.
NO2: Or was it the mouth?
NO2: What’s the use? If you’re not going to watch the movie, I might as well leave.
NO1: No, stay!
NO2: Why? You won’t take my advice, and you’re obviously not interested in the movie.
NO1: But he stopped snoring.
NO2: He stopped snoring. He stopped snoring! I should think you’d be scattering flowers in the aisles and chanting victory hymns, not moping about. He stopped snoring! Call the mayor! Declare a holiday!
NO1: There’s no need for that.
NO2: I rather think there is. You’re behaving like a child. Grow a backbone and join the proud race of vertebrates.
NO1: Oh, all right, all right. I’ll stop.
NO2: Thank you.
(NO2 raises the volume of the film once more. In response, the snoring resumes with an explosive stutter and the two turn to look at each other)
BOTH: He knows!