by Ruth Fingret

I was asked to write a verbatim piece for Lou’s Place – a refuge for homeless women. I interviewed three homeless women who had been on the streets for years. I used their exact words to tell their story and raise almost $50,000 in the process.

(Three women are on stage telling three monologues)

LOUISA               For a long time I never bought a bag of oranges.

BARBARA           When I was ten  I had these two tape recorders.

LOUISA               Anything in a red mesh bag just made me nervous.

BARBARA           On one I’d record songs off the radio so I could listen to them later. .

LOUISA               Capsicums.

BARBARA           On the other, I’d tape record my own voice as I sang along.

LOUISA               Lemons.

BARBARA           And guitar. Acoustic guitar.s Steel string guitars. Beautiful guitars.

LOUISA               I’d rather pay more and buy them singly.

BARBARA           All I ever wanted to do was sing.

NAINA                (crying) it was really hard. I think everything was pretty fast. I went there. They say yes you can start. I thought they would give me some training. I was really naïve.

LOUISA               My father designed city buildings and big projects. .

NAINA                I thought no one would pick me. I hoping no one pick me. But … it was a really old man. But good looking. Nice body. Nice guy.

LOUISA               … and a lot of things you couldn’t break into or out of like jails and Psych wards and hospitals.

BARBARA           Dad was stationed in Tobruk during the war. He spoke Arabic. No I think it was Hebrew. No Arabic. He was in the middle east for seven and half years.

NAINA                I  told him it was my first time. I don’t know what to do. He was so nice. He said don’t worry. You need to put a sheet on top of the bed. I didn’t have an idea. He said don’t worry. Relax.

BARBARA           I grew up in Britain, Germany and east Africa. Probably12 or 13 different places. 11 schools.

NAINA                It was so awkward. He was gentle. It wasn’t nice but it wasn’t bad. It was quick because it was lunch time. In this time the men just come and go.

LOUISA               Mum was a teacher. She used to write and correct HSC examination papers.

BARBARA           I fell in love with the Isle of Whyte. We visited for one week when I was seven years of age then went back and lived there for 5 or 6 years. But they could never stop moving. Particularly my mother. It wasn’t my father’s career. In the end it was my mother. She was restless.

LOUISA               Hard working people. Religious..

BARBARA           Today he’d have been diagnosed with PTSD.

LOUISA               Protestants

BARBARA           He couldn’t really relate to women, ora girls.

NAINA                I didn’t know if the men … what they were allowed to do

BARBARA           Whiskey. Beer. He had a relationship with them. There were no broken bones but he would (gestures slapping both sides of the face). I guess I became very withdrawn. I didn’t want to say anything or be noticed. I was a quiet sort of girl. I never shouted.

LOUISA               I went to a private school. But I was a latch key kid.

NAINA                I don’t know if I can say no/yes – what to do.