Cartrouble

A play by Kevin Mitchell.


ACT ONE

An average four door family saloon car. The vehicle is stationary with the driver's seat unoccupied. Mother is waiting impatiently whilst two children are larking about in the back: Selina is at that difficult age, Ronnie is as yet untroubled by the angst of adolescence. A roof-rack full of luggage betrays the fact that this happy family are going on holiday.

Mother: Ronnie! I've told you before, keep your feet off of the upholstery.

Selina: He can't help it, he's bored and for that matter so am I.

Ronnie: Yes that's right, I'm bored, and you should know that I always behave like this when I'm bored.

Mother: Can you not refrain from your mischievous malarkey till your father returns? It's not my fault that we're stuck here.

Selina: Well it certainly isn't mine. I didn't want to come on this stupid holiday anyway. I can't see what you still see in the place. I mean, you've been going there every year since your honeymoon, as darling Daddy is constantly reminding us.

Mother: Well I don't need you to remind me that ended a long time ago.

Ronnie: So why drag us there again?

Selina: Yes it's like some annual pilgrimage to Hell, and always the same two weeks.

Mother: You should know by now that your father's leave is tied to the last two weeks in July. He may be middle-management but he is still governed by when the factory, or what ever it is closes.

Selina: Why couldn't I have just stayed at home?

Mother: Because I was not having you staying at home on your own at your age.

Selina: But I wouldn't have been on my own.

Mother: That is precisely the problem, you're at that age where you can't just, do anything. The moment our backs were turned you would have had the house full of those disreputable acquaintances of yours, with their peculiar manners and hand-rolled cigarettes.

Selina: There is nothing wrong with any of my friends, they all come from good, stable family backgrounds.

Mother: That would go a long way to explaining their perversity in shortcomings — a dose of single-parentage never did anyone any harm.

Selina: How would you know, Nan and Granddad were married for forty years before the accident and happily too, you would have us believe. Nevertheless, you are hinting in a truthful direction. I watched a very informative documentary on the subject only last Sunday.

Mother: When I was your age, young lady, Sunday was set aside for a healthy combination of praying, chores and family get togethers, not for sprawling about the furniture, watching television programmes about the declining moral standards of our society.

Ronnie: I want an ice-cream.

Selina: Shut up brat, we're arguing.

Mother: Don't speak to your brother like that. (To Ronnie) No you bloody well can't! We're stuck here in the middle of nowhere. Where do you expect to get an ice-cream from around here?

Selina cocks a snoot at Ronnie.

Ronnie: It's the middle of Summer. An ice-cream van is bound to pass by eventually.

Selina: Not yet it won't, it's not raining. Besides even if one did go by, it's hardly likely to stop on the hard shoulder for the sake of selling one measly choc-ice, is it? You clown.

Ronnie: I don't like choc-ices. I only eat double vanilla cornets with a squirt of raspberry sauce and a flake, so there.

Selina: Oh! Hark at little Mr. Whippy.

Mother: When your father returns I will be ensuring that he has some stern words with the pair of you.

Ronnie: Where has he gone? He's been ages.

Mother: You know very well where he has gone. He quite clearly explained where he was going before he left.

Selina: Could you possibly give me a quick recap. My attention span is very short.If this was America I would be suing you on the grounds of child abuse for neglecting to raise me in a lead-free environment.

Mother: And we would have had you committed to a corrective institution for emotionally unbalanced offspring long ago.

Selina: And donated the saving in school fees to some crackpot televangelical organisation I should't wonder.

Mother: Don't mock the fundamentalists Selly, they could own you one day.

Selina: Touche!

Ronnie: Mum, where has he gone. Mum—

Mother: He's gone to locate someone who can repair the car.

Selina: Trust you to marry a man who can't.

Mother: I don't know, he's had his moments. There is such a thing as living testament.

Selina: Well perhaps you may have the opportunity to introduce me to them some day.

Ronnie: What are you on about?

Mother: Sssh Ronnie!

Ronnie: Oh, I get it, it's `grown-up' talk again.

Selina: Yes, that's right, so lip up.

Ronnie: So what are you doing in the conversation then.

Selina: Shut up you little bastard.

Ronnie: Mum. Selly just called me a—

Mother: I am only too aware of what she said. After all I am only two feet away.

Selina: I wish that his two feet were away from me, they stink. (To Ronnie). Honestly, don't you ever change your socks?

Mother: Ronnie I thought that I told you to have a bath and to put on clean clothes before we left. I laid out a freshly laundered outfit specially for the occasion.

Ronnie: But mum, no one washes at my age; it's not natural. I would be drummed out of the club at school.

Mother: You boys cannot stop playing at your little gangs, can you? You start off behind the bicycle sheds at lunchtimes, comparing conkers and you end up in high office with your special secret handshakes, meeting incognito and complaining that none of your wives understand you.

Selina: Yeh! Well we know a lot more than we ever let on, so just you watch your step, bucko.

Ronnie: Mum tell her to stop picking on me.

Mother: Yes leave the boy alone for five minutes won't you.

Selina: Leave me alone with him for five minutes and his woes will be at an end.

Ronnie: (Screaming) Mum!

Selina: (To Mother) Don't blame me. You started on him first.

Mother: And I'm finishing on you last. Behave.

Selina: I'll be the death of you if you carry on like that.

There is a brief sulky silence while the various parties regroup.

Ronnie: Mum, you know when dad sent us up in the loft to fetch the suitcases down?

Mother: And you nearly fell through the ceiling. Yes. I've told your father at least a dozen times that it's not safe for you children to be up there unattended.

Ronnie: Well Selly found a cardboard box full of your old diaries and things.

Selina: I told you never to tell (She hits Ronnie). I swore you to secrecy.

Ronnie: Ow!

Mother: You had no right to pry into my personal effects. They were private. All my letters to your father were up there.

Selina: I know, but not all of it was boring.

Mother: Why you little cow—

Ronnie: Who was this Martin bloke?

Mother: I thought I didn't have any secrets left. Didn't you read everything through thoroughly?

Selina: Yes of course I did; there is nothing worse than knowing half a story, but they only told me what he did.

Mother: Not that it's any of your business.

Selina: If you don't make it my business, I'll make it Dad's business.

Mother: Ronnie, can't you go out and play?

Selina: Don't be ridiculous, he'll get run over before you could say ``Semi''. The traffic's incessant.

Mother: I thought that was what you wanted just now?

Selina: I'm at that fickle age mother, so you needn't bother yourself seeking justification for my irrational changes of mood.

Mother: I was young, you see. Not much older than you are now. He said he found my failings attractive. He couldn't do anything for his wife. He said that she was too self-sufficient for him ever to feel truly needed in her presence. He said that their marriage was a sham and that they had only been going through the motions for a considerable length of time.

Selina: It sounds to me like an idyllic illicit romance.

Mother: It was.

Selina: So what spoilt it?

Mother: You did. Talk about starting as you mean to go on.

Selina: What! Ronnie, go out and play.

Mother: As soon as he discovered I was with child, he dropped me quicker than a Cockney barrow-boy drops his `aitches'. I suppose I was lucky that your father came on the scene so soon.

Selina: You never saw him again, that was the end of it, right?

Mother: I tried to track him down but with little success. He moved away and took `Mrs Super-efficiency' with him. I never forgot him though, or gave up trying and one day, purely by chance, I bumped into him. Surprisingly enough we still got on really well together.

Selina: How well?

Mother: Too well.

Selina: Oh my god! It all makes sense now. You never re-met accidentally and you've been taking every available opportunity to look him up since and there's no need for you to tell me where he moved to either. This charming man would vacate wherever you suggested. I'm amazed that he even knows how to put trousers on.

Ronnie: Here comes Daddy now.

Father enters.He is wet (sic), having been caught in a cloudburst which has left his seasonal attire more that a trifle sodden. He gets into the car. Mother and Selina are sitting in uncomfortable silence, avoiding each other's gaze.They barely acknowledge his presence. Ronnie is altogether more enthusiastic about his return.

Father: Talk about changeable weather (He pauses, then laughs to try and ease the obvious tension). I suppose that's practically all we English ever do. I shouldn't really have chanced it but the forecast spoke only of unabated sunshine. Did you see that big, black cloud, the one that passed over about ten minutes ago. That was the one that got me; crept up on me out of nowhere it did.

There is another pause. A few seconds pass in what seems like an eternity.

Ronnie: Can we go now Dad?

Father: Not yet son, not until the repair man comes.

Ronnie: But we've been here ages already.

Father: I know that, but it's not my fault. At least we can rest assured that even as I speak, a trusted employee of the most renowned automobile repair and recovery service in the land is making with all haste to alleviate our predicament.

Ronnie: If you hadn't insisted on bringing so much luggage with us you would have had room for your tool box, then you could have mended the car yourself and we wouldn't still be here now.

Selina: (Unable to resist the temptation of antagonising the situation any longer). Oh yes we would; you should know by now that everything takes twice as long when he does it.

Mother: (To herself). Don't you believe it.

Father: He! He has a name you know. He happens to be your father, that's who he is. Your father.

Silence. Everyone looks at each other and then away.

What have you been saying to them this time, Monica?

Mother: Nothing, Dear.

Father: Nothing! Nothing doesn't make your children treat you like some anonymous third party.

Mother: It does if that's the amount of attention you pay them.

Father: Are you telling me that I ignore their needs. I lavish them with love, affection and money. What more could they ask for?

Mother: Children of their age are very demanding.

Father: I know, they are always demanding extra pocket-money in addition to their more than generous allowances.

Ronnie: Oh, stingy!

Selina: Yes things have changed since your day. Have you never heard of inflation?

Father: Of course I have; a man in my position must keep abreast of all the latest trends in monetary matters.

Mother: I would have thought that someone as financially astute as you claim to be could afford to spend a little more time with his family.

Father: I invested your inheritance with great foresight and wisdom, did I not?

Mother: Your business acumen is hardly adequate compensation for the tragic loss of both my parents. In fact if it hadn't been for all the help and advice that I received from the bereavement counsellor, I might never have recovered at all.

Father: Yes, he must have made a great impression on you, after this time you still sometimes call out his name in your sleep. I would really like to meet him someday so that I can shake him by the hand and thank him for a job well done.

Mother: They do it all voluntarily as well, you know.Most of them manage to hold down full time jobs; depending on the economic climate of the day, of course.

Father: I just don't understand it.

Mother: They're kind hearted people doing their bit for society, it's quite simple.

Father: No, I mean the car. It doesn't make sense. I spend every weekend lavishing it with care.

Selina: You've polished it so often I'm sure that the paint-work's four shades lighter than when you bought it.

Father: I gave it a full service before we set out.

Ronnie: It's true, I noticed that the ashtrays had been emptied.

Selina: And now they're full of sweet papers. You're like a slave to this inefficient chunk of machinery.

Father: Be fair, when has it ever let us down before?

Selina: Last Christmas, when we were on our way to uncle Ben and auntie Rosie's; I didn't get to open my presents until Boxing Day. Can't you remember anything?

Ronnie: Admit it Dad, it's a crock.

Father: It's given us its all; what more can we ask?

Mother: (Sighs). If that is your attitude it could go along way to explaining your behaviour far beyond the scope of our present predicament.

Father: What exactly are you insinuating by that remark?

Mother: Your approach to, well, life in general; you're too laid back and yet paradoxically laid back not nearly often enough.

Father: I've never heard you complain before. What's up, have the children been antagonising you again?

Mother: For that to be possible it would require them to occasionally stop. You cannot blame them for all your shortcomings, besides, you posses a great, untapped vein of potential.

Father: I am glad to hear that you still have some faith left in me.

Mother: It's true; should they ever choose to advertise mogodon on television you'll become a household name overnight.

Father: Their warped sense of humour has evidently rubbed off on you, if nothing else.

Selina: Mum's right, dad, flair is not merely something that makes your trousers unfashionable.

Ronnie: Let's play I-spy.

Selina: I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with `F'—

Father: That is quite enough of that, Selina.

Selina: Well, what a pathetic pastime.

Mother: Don't pick on him, he's only a little boy.

Ronnie: Yes, leave me alone you witch.

Selina: Don't blame me, it's not my fault that he's not old enough to know any better. I'm sure that I wasn't like that at his age.

Mother: The word precocious suddenly springs to mind, though you've tailed off in recent years.

Selina: What?

Mother: You might as well face it, girl. You've yet to leave school and you've passed your prime already.

Selina: If you hadn't made me resit those wretched exams I would have left ages ago.

Mother: I like to know where you are, I couldn't have you running amok. Besides, exams are important.

Selina: If I don't want to end up a housewife like you, I suppose they are.

Mother: There is nothing wrong with the way I—

Selina: Come off it, Mother.

Mother: I didn't have time to go on it.

Selina: You were practically married before you were old enough to vote.

Mother: I couldn't help it, I was in the midst of a difficult pregnancy. I had no choice, your father had offered to pay for a private clinic, but only on the condition of matrimony. It was touch and go for a while. I was in a catch twenty-two situation.

Ronnie: Did you have to have a Yuossarian, Mum?

Selina: (Laughs). You can be so anti-semantic at times.

Ronnie: That's not true.

Father: Quite so. I've brought the pair of you up to respect all creeds and colours.

Mother: This situation is getting out of hand again.

Father: You're right, what we need is a diversion.

Selina: I thought that you would have had enough of them after that five mile tail-back at the junction eleven contra-flow.

Ronnie: Why don't we sing a song?

Father: That's a good idea. What do you suggest?

Selina: What about one of those jolly ditties you always recite when you come home at two o'clock in the morning after a night out with your mates from the rugby club.

Mother: There she goes again; `Miss lowest common denominator', dragging everything down to her level.

Ronnie: I was thinking more along the lines of a campfire song that we sing at scouts.

Mother: But I don't know any of those.

Father: Okay son, you start it off and we'll join in with the refrain.

Selina: If it's all the same to you, I think that I'll refrain from joining in.

Ronnie: You've really changed recently; I can remember, not so long ago when you used to be quite fun.

Selina: It's all the pressures of teenage delinquency. It's a hard front to keep up.

Ronnie: Well I hope that I don't ever grow up to be as crabby as you. You can be a real party pooper-scooper at times.

Mother: It's not raining now, Dear. Why don't you go and sort yourself out a change of clothing? You'll catch a chill sitting about in those wet things.

Father: And where exactly would you have me change? There's no room in here.

Mother: What's wrong with the roadside?

Father: Don't be ridiculous.

Mother: No one will be able to see you of you stand behind the car and judging by the speed that the traffic is racing past, they would have to look exceptionally hard to get even the briefest glimpse of anything interesting.

Father: Bashfulness has nothing to do with it. Have you no sense of precaution? The hard-shoulder is no place to change attire; why I might be killed, or worse.

Selina: Yes Mum and how would we get on then? You can't drive.

Mother: I don't want to be stuck here until I rot any more than you do. (To Father). You didn't have any problems with the edge of the carriageway during your lengthy absence of a short while ago, did you?

Father: That was an emergency. I had to telephone the hotel and explain that we would be arriving considerably later than previously arranged to protect our deposit. Seventeen years of faithful patronage count for nothing in the cutthroat world of holiday accommodation these days, you know.

Selina: Why should it. It's hardly a universally acknowledged anniversary is it?

Mother: So sit there like a victim of spontaneous incontinence then, see if I care.

Father: Look, it doesn't matter now. In a short while we will all be lounging in the lap of comparative four-star luxury.

Ronnie: Mum?

Mother, Father and Selina: (Together). No!

Curtain.


ACT TWO

Same scene, six hours later. Selina, with walkman on, lounges with her feet out of the car window. Mother has dozed off while reading a magazine which now covers her face. Father, with seat reclined, snores loudly. Ronnie is nowhere to be seen.

Father: Z-z-z-z-z.

Mother awakes and folds magazine.

Mother: (Drowsily). Wake up. What time is it? (She prods him with the magazine).

Father: (Stirring slowly). Eh! What! Are they here yet?

Mother: I don't care about anyone being anywhere, except us, and the fact that we're not at our designated place of destination, or for that matter anywhere other than this confounded, non-mobile, chicken coop.

Selina turns up the volume of her walkman to drown out their voices.

Father: (Looking at his watch). Bloody Hell, it's half-past-five. I would have thought that — (He turns round and nudges Selina). Turn that down, I can hardly hear myself think.

Selina switches off her walkman and slides the headphones down around her neck.

Selina: What was that?

Father: I said — look it doesn't matter now. (Suddenly realises that they are one body short). Where's Ronnie?

Selina: Who?

Father: Your brother. Where is he?

Selina: How should I know. He's your responsibility, not mine.

Father: We've been asleep.

Mother: That's right Selly, we must have dozed off for five minutes.

Selina: Five hours would be more like it. Anyway, what makes you so sure that I've been awake all this time.

Mother: Because you always seem to be pleading hyperactivity as an excuse for something or other.

Selina: If you expect me to be my brother's keeper you should provide me with a cage.

Mother: You must have seen or heard something relating to his disappearance.

Selina: I don't know what all the fuss is about, he's hardly an endangered species.

Father: He'll be bloody extinct when I get my hands on the little—

Selina: He's probably just gone to stretch his legs.

Father: You were too idle even to do that. Now sit round before you scratch the paint work.

Selina assumes a more conventional posture.

Mother: This is no time to be thinking of your wretched car.

Father: This car is all of ours, I'm merely its driver.

Selina: Its lover, more like. You seem to enjoy a most unnatural relationship with this rust bucket. What do you find to do in that garage of yours for hours at a time? Nothing of mechanical merit, I'm sure.

Mother: Be quiet, both of you. This is no time for bickering, you can do that any when. We are in the midst of a crisis.

Selina: (Under her breath). What do you expect at your age.

Father: You are quite right, Dear. This is a very serious matter. The poor little chap could be anywhere, any thing could have happened to him. Why, at this very moment, he may be—

Selina: I know, brilliant isn't it; I love black.

Mother: Don't be so morbid.

Selina: I can't help it. Haven't I told you before that I'm the reincarnation of a witch, burnt at the stake for crimes of heresy in the year of our Dark Lord, fifteen hundred and thirty four.

Father: You would be wouldn't you. No one is ever a reincarnated third-rate accounts clerk from Crawley.

Selina: Who would ever admit to it? Besides, everyone knows that they never die, they all go and work at your company instead.

Mother: They are dead, Selly, that's Hell.

Father: Nonsense, Gregg and Sons is a forward thinking company. Why only last week Mr. Gregg himself told me that I would be in line for another promotion within the next two years.

Mother: He was just buttering you up to stay on until he sells out to the Nakajima Corporation; everyone at the W.I. coffee morning knows that he has accepted their provisional offer.

Father: Perhaps you could ask those old hags to get their crystal balls out and locate our son, because at this rate you'll be seeing them again first.

Mother: Well why don't you go and telephone the police?

Selina: You must be joking, look how long he was gone last time. And what did that little sojourn achieve? Anyway, the local constabulary will be far too busy shooting joyriders or wheelclamping old age pensioners to bother themselves finding our lovable little lout.

Father: This isn't a police state yet you know.

Mother: She's right though; you're going nowhere. If you leave me alone with her for more than five minutes I'm liable to throttle her.

Father: Alright. So we'll tackle the problem ourselves. It's quite simple really, all we have to do is think logically—

Selina: I thought you said that it was simple.

Father: Thank you for that staggering monolith of wit and insight to your persona, my child of darkness. Now as I was saying, we just have to think logically about where Ronnie is likely to have gone.

Mother: Has anyone any suggestions?

Selina: Well I told him to go and kill himself, remember.

Father: I hardly think that's likely, whatever you may wish to the contrary.

Selina: I'll live in hope.

Mother: (Becoming agitated). If you two don't get serious this instant, I'll scream.

Selina: That's it.

Mother: What is what?

Selina: Ice-cream. He's probably gone to buy an ice-cream.

Father: If this is another one of your infantile japes I shall be forced to put you over my knee, big as you are.

Selina: Not anymore you won't. I'm sick and tired of you using chastisement as a vehicle for your perverse sexual desires.

Father: (Floundering). But, I—

Mother: She's right.

Father: I can explain everything.

Mother: No about the ice cream—

Selina: But Mum!

Mother: Be quiet, Dear, this is important—

Selina throws herself down on the rear seat in a tantrum; fraught and howling with anguish.

(To Father). While you were off on your travels, in pursuit of the apparently unobtainable, Ronnie got it into his head that he wanted a cornet. I thought that I had beaten the stupid idea out if him. Obviously the notion was stronger than my methods of corrective persuasion had anticipated.

Father: It's all very well surmising what he may or may not have gone off in search of, but it still doesn't tell us where he is or how in Hell worry going to find him.

Selina suddenly sits back upright, full of purpose.

Selina: Dad, take a look at this.

She thrusts a book under his nose.

Mother: Where did you get that?

Father: What is it?

Selina: I had it hidden in my handbag.

Mother: Give it to me.

Father: What is it?

Selina: It's one of her old diaries.

Mother: Give it here.

Father snatches the diary out of Selina's hand.

Thank God for that.(She reaches for it).

Father: (Holding the diary away from her). Hold on a moment, let me take a look at this (he opens it up and starts reading).

Mother: What are you doing? Give it here.

Selina: Don't listen to her.

Mother: Shut up you.

Father: Where the hell did you find this?

Selina: Ronnie and I found it in the loft when we were fetching down the suitcases and—

Mother: And it's private and it's mine so hand it over now.

Father: I don't understand it. (Reads more). This must be years old, but I thought that we had destroyed all such documents relating to your sordid past. It was part of our pre-nuptial agreement.

Mother: So was the handing over of a more than generous portion of my inheritance.

Selina: I thought that dowries were old-hat in the free-thinking, modern western society.

Father: They were exceptionally mitigating circumstances; your mother was fabulously wealthy but totally impoverished where morals were concerned, taking her hand in marriage could have ruined my career prospects, it was only natural to expect an amount of monetary reparation.

Mother: You were very fortunate that my parents' brakes failed when they did. You were just a struggling, back-street mechanic when I met you. I never did understand it; their car had only recently been serviced. Still I can't really complain; their penchant for thrift may have ultimately led to their demise at the hands of some cut-price cowboy, but it also ensured that I would be made up financially for the rest of my life. It's just a shame that their will stipulated that I had to settle down and get married to receive my inheritance. Of course I was leading a wild life, I was spoilt rotten, what on earth did they expect me to do?

Selina: (To Father). No wonder you bought yourself a career move. Our present predicament proves that you obviously could never have cut it with a spanner.

Father: Yes, I have always been a forward thinker. Formal marriage contracts were a rarity then.

Mother: Well now that we've laid that little skeleton in the closet to rest, do you think that we can get back to the small problem of our missing son?

Father: Quite right, Dear, but I just don't know where to start looking.

Mother: What about the service station that we passed a few miles back? I'm sure that they sell ice cream there.

Selina: Aren't we forgetting one small thing?

Father: What would that happen to be?

Selina: The date.

Mother: 21st July, What's so special about that?

Selina: No, the date of the diary, the year.

Father: (Reading from diary). Nineteen-seventy-wait a minute, we had indulged in three years of wedded bliss by that time. What do you think you were playing at?

Mother: I can explain everything.

Selina: Actually 21st July was pretty special that year.

Father: (Turns to relevant page and reads aloud). ``Together again at last. It's been so long, too long — almost a whole twelve months...'' Christ Almighty woman! And I thought that I was the devious, conniving, underhand mother of this cosy family.

Selina: Go on, it gets better.

Father: For her it gets a whole lot worse, starting right now.

Mother: It's not as bad as it looks—

Father: If this car was working I would pull over and make you get out and walk.

Selina: You could always make her get out and push.

Father: She's certainly been pushing it behind my back all these years, so a few more yards would do her no harm.

Mother: It was a damn sight better than trying to flog a dead horse, I can tell you.

Selina: And you thought that her insisting on holidaying at the same place every year was some sort of romantic gesture.

Father: My falling for it was a bloody idiotic one.

Selina: You could always give her the benefit of the doubt though. Perhaps there is a perfectly innocent explanation for everything.

Mother: At your age you should know that anything which can be explained away innocently is not worth the effort.

Selina: Of course I do, that is why you never believe any of the stories I tell you.

Father: That's hardly surprising, you spin a superior yarn to anything dark or satanic.

Selina: You can say whatever you like, because Miles thinks I'm better by far.

Mother: Miles! Who's this Miles, should I know him?

Selina: No Mother, you should not. And for your information I do not keep a journal of any description.

Mother: I hardly kept one for your information either, in spite of the way things have turned out. Look can't we just drop this? What about Ronnie?

Father: Oh screw Ronnie!

Selina: Why not, you have everyone else.

Father: And she hasn't, I suppose.

Selina: No, only the one, there's no need to get that excited.

Father: And I'm supposed to be thankful for it?

Mother: So I've made a few mistakes, haven't we all? But surely there's nothing that we can't put behind us.

Selina: Great, does that mean we can go home instead of going to that boring hotel-come-dungeon again.

Mother: You make it sound like the sort of place you should love.

Father: No I'm afraid that it is too late for forgiveness this far into the proceedings. It's not even as if you have apologised. You display not the tiniest hint of remorse.

Selina: So divorce it is then. I can't wait to tell all my friends, they'll be dead jealous. This sort of scandal is as scarce as a red rosette round our way.

Mother: Don't you believe it.

Father: I am sorry to disappoint you Selly, but I am afraid that divorce is out of the question. You see, not only did your mother have to get married to claim her inheritance, she also has to stay that way until she reaches the age of thirty-five. I've got it all worked out to perfection; all the money has been in one high interest account all these years, to maximise my profit, with major creditors accepting promissory notes payable when the gold has been fleeced, so to speak. Yes, it all falls neatly into place the year that you leave school.

Selina: But I have officially left, remember. Mum made me do resits though.

Father: (To Mother). Er, Dear, perhaps I was a trifle harsh on you. So if you say that you are sorry we'll just forget the whole thing. okay?

Mother: No. It's all true and I don't care anymore, but I'm not going to stay here any longer just to be insulted though, not by you.

Mother gets out of the car and removes a suitcase from the roof-rack.

Father: Where are you going?

Mother: To phone for a taxi.

Father: At least you can't say that you are going home to Mother.

Mother: I'm enroute to my solicitor's to cut you off without so much as a ha'penny.

Mother storms off with suitcase in hand.

Father: Talk about rats from a sinking ship. At least I've still got you Selly. My little angel. (He puts his arm around her). We'll see this thing through. If you have anything in common with me it's the fact that you're not a quitter.

Selina pulls away from him, gets out of the car and frees another suitcase from the roof-rack.

Father: Selly! Where are you going? You have no money for a cab.

Selina: I'm going to hitch it home. (She sticks out her thumb).

Father: But it could take you days.

Selina: Ah! Here's one now. (She runs to the edge of the stage). Bye you slimy pig!

Father: Come back it's not safe, you could get molested.

Selina: If I'm lucky. (She exits).

Father gets out of the car and kicks it. He hurts his foot.

Father: Ow! Buggeration! (He limps around for a bit). I wasn't going anywhere anyway.

There is the sound of a van arriving. Enter Ronnie and a motor vehicle recovery/repair man of good repute.

Ronnie: (Licking an ice cream; a double vanilla cornet with a squirt of raspberry sauce and a flake). Dad, I'd like to meet this very nice man. His name is Martin.

Curtain.

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This page © Kevin Mitchell, 1998.