Two main characters. The first is a young white man (Regret). The other is an old, wise black man (Listener). He has a grey beard and is nearly bald.
Silence. The two characters are facing each other over a game of chess. The chess board is resting on an up-turned tea chest. Regret sits in a broken car seat. The Listener sits on a large, empty, cable spool. They appear to be sitting in a dark warehouse, where they are illuminated only by a single stream of light from a hole in the roof. The floor is dusty. We move in towards them as the Listener moves his white bishop and takes Regret’s Queen. The Listener drops Regret’s piece to the floor. We watch it falling in slow motion. As it hits the ground and bounces, Regret speaks:
There is a brief silence.
Listener: “What do you regret?:
Regret: “I regret my life.”
Regret moves a black pawn one space forward on the chess board. We focus onto Regret’s right eye until it blurs out of focus, and then back into focus at a different scene. There is a small, young boy wearing shorts and a T-shirt, standing in a school playground. His friends are around him surround him, but we focus on him.
As another boy runs past them, one of his friends shouts out: “There he is!”
All the first boy’s friends turn to run away after that kid, but a bigger boy says to the first boy: “You stay here.” As the playground around him becomes empty, we hear Regret speaking over the image of this lone by standing in the playground. We circle him, flying up in the air above him, looking down on him.
Regret: “I regret letting them leave me. I regret being weak. I regret my life.”
The Listener moves a white pawn and captures Regret’s black pawn. The piece drops to the floor, in slow motion again. We focus on Regret’s mouth as he speaks.
Regret: “I regret not going to see that trumpet teacher. I regret being weak. I wanted to play the trumpet. I wanted to play jazz. I regret it.”
We pan to the Listener. He looks into Regret’s eyes. We turn back to a younger Regret. He is sitting on the back row of an orchestra playing his oboe. The older regret continues to speak over the music.
Regret: “I regret learning the oboe. I wanted to play jazz. The oboe won’t let me do that. I wanted to play the trumpet. Why was I so weak? I want to play jazz. I regret my life.”
The image on the screen goes black suddenly. It reopens at an image of Regret on a stage, playing his trumpet in front of a Harlem jazz club, accompanied by a saxophonist, a double bass player, a pianist and a drummer. He is playing wildly. The image cuts off as the Listener interrupts.
Listener: “Your move.”
Regret moves his Bishop across the board and captures the Listener’s Rook. He picks it up and throws it up into the air. It spins, in slow motion, as it passes through the stream of light and then comes hurtling down to the ground again. It hits the ground and smashes into two pieces.
Regret: “I regret letting people get away with treating me like dirt.”
An image of a school corridor appears. A younger Regret walks down the corridor in school uniform. Two boys start following him, every where he goes. Everything he does, they copy. As he starts to walk up some steps, he turns to look back at them. Suddenly, we cut back to the chess game. Regret hits his fists down onto the board and anger creeps across his face. In slow motion, the board flips over and all the remaining piece fly into the air.
The image of the corridor comes back. Regret turns around and punches one of the two boys following him. He leaps into the air and kicks the other in the head. The boy falls to the ground and blood splatters over the floor. Regret shouts, angrily, over this.
Regret: “I regret not smashing their skulls into a thousand pieces. I regret being so weak. I regret letting people treat me like dirt. I regret my life.”
We cut back to the warehouse. The Listener picks up the black Queen and holds it up on his palm. Regret takes the piece and holds it between his finger and thumb. A tear roles down his face as he looks at it. Everything blurs out of focus and re-focuses at another image. There is a pretty girl sitting on a wall outside sixth form college. The image disappears almost immediately as we cut back to the chess piece in Regret’s hand. He speaks softly.
Regret: “I regret listening to threats. I regret giving up. If I was not weak, I would have asked her. She is a dream in my head. I regret that. I regret my life.”
We move back towards both of the players. The Listener looks at Regret. Regret drops the Queen to the ground and speaks quietly.
Regret: “I regret letting the world run my life. I didn’t want to let the people who loved me down. So I didn’t take any risks. I regret that.”
The Listener reached across the table to shake hands with Regret. Regret reaches back. They stand up and walk silently, together, to the door of the warehouse. At the door, where there seems to be no scenery, just a very bright, white light, Regret turns to the Listener.
Regret: “What can I do?”
Listener: “It’s your move.”
The Listener walks out of the warehouse and disappears into the light.
Six Confessions of a Tortured Soul
Part six, 28 December 1995.