Better The Devil You Know

A play by Kevin Mitchell.


ACT ONE

The lounge of dingy flat situated on one of the higher stories of a tower block. Doors lead off into kitchen, bathroom bedroom and communal landing. Lounge contains sofa-bed, television, telephone and is generally untidy. In one corner of the room is a large closet with double doors. Flynn enters from the landing. He looks furtively about the room and assumes that no one else is home.

Flynn: (Calling through open doorway). It's okay, he's not here. (He beckons). Come in.

Marilyn: (Entering). So this is the home, sweet home I've been hearing so much about. (She stops in her tracks, sniffing at the air). Ugh! What a horrid smell. You should call someone from the council out to rectify that right away.

Flynn: You're not alone in that opinion, it's one that I hold myself. Unfortunately my father won't hear of it, despite my many altercations with him on the matter. He says that by the time anyone in authority gets around to dealing with it, the odour will have abated of its own accord and we'll get ourselves added to their time-wasters blacklist.

Marilyn: But that's appalling.

Flynn: Yes I know, and once you're on it you don't get anything sorted at all without at least a dozen demeaning personal visits to their offices, complete with screaming, shouting and the obligatory obscene gesticulation.

Marilyn: I fear that everyone at our old block must have been on that wretched register. No maintenance of any kind was ever undertaken there. Eventually, not long after it was condemned, the whole block collapsed; It squashed the re-housing list a stroke, that is how we came to be allocated a dwelling here instead of having to wait for the new development project to be completed.

Flynn: I hear that the new blocks are being constructed from reinforced cardboard in an attempt to make the long-term homeless feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. (Pause). However did you survive such a tragedy? You must be exceptionally lucky.

Marilyn: On the contrary. Our continued existence was due entirely to a run of extreme misfortune: My mother was at the bank attempting to cash her redundancy cheque and I was enroute to the vet's to have our cat put to sleep.

Flynn: It all sounds very sad.

Marilyn: Yes, they wouldn't give her any money, owing to a discrepancy in the account. Apparently the account was closed as the company had already gone into receivership.

Flynn: And what of your poor pussy?

Marilyn: William had never been the same since he was bitten by one of the block rats, and we couldn't afford to feed him any more. At the last moment however, I couldn't go through with it, so I decided to let him go and tell mother that I had drowned him in the canal or something; otherwise she would have asked for the receipt, you see she's very business minded. In the end, however, I was fortunate enough to be able to sell him to a passing vivisectionist.

Flynn: She must have been impressed by your act of financial acumen.

Marilyn: Yes and William went to him grave with the knowledge that he had helped to further the cause of necessary scientific research.

Flynn: They patrol round here on a regular basis. The woman in No. eighty-seven claims that they took her budgie, but I reckon she was just trying to pull a fast one on the insurance company. Dig deep enough in her window box and you'll find more than the occasional bulb, I shouldn't wonder that it's a regular pet cemetery.

Marilyn: (Wandering around). You were right in your suspicion, this flat is just like ours, except of course it has that lived-in feel to it.

Flynn: We take it in turns to sleep out here, but it's not all my mess and the stench has only really been in evidence for a couple of days. I'm sure that if it comes to the worst we'll get used to it just like we did with the other infestations.

Marilyn: (Horrified). You mean there are rats here too?

Flynn: Not any more, the roaches saw the back of them months ago.

Marilyn: How awful.

Flynn: I don't know. I hear that they're a valuable source of protein. Some of the present residents encourage their presence for the specific purpose of supplementing their diet.

Marilyn: That sounds like more nonsense you picked up from your know-it-all college acquaintances.

Flynn: I haven't seen any of them since I left. As a matter of fact they were the main reason I packed it in.

Marilyn: More like because you failed to achieve a grade average higher than `F'. I've been doing my homework on you.

Flynn: I thought to myself, who in their right mind would want to hang-out with a bunch of would-be social-climbing miscreants: all peroxide and attitude, with mum doing their ironing. So I quit and ever since I have endeavoured to seek the real me.

Marilyn: I doubt very much whether you've ever been really laid back, and since your departure your sanity has constantly been called into question. Look at yourself, you're a mess.

Flynn: There is no room in here for a mirror, nor in my life for vanity. (He runs his fingers through his hair). At least this is all my own; natural, with not a trace of tint or tarnish. And the creases in my clothing are far from regimented by a woman's touch.

Marilyn: The council redecorated our flat before we moved in, something to do with their budget I gather: Unless they chronically overspend every year, central government cuts their grant. We also have more floor space than you; they must have knocked out our closet during the renovation.

Flynn: No, ours seems to be the only flat to have one.

Marilyn: I would have preferred a little more storage space myself. I mean you only have to buy a wardrobe or something.

Flynn: (Lifting finger to his lips). Ssh! I can hear someone coming; next door is derelict, so it must be my father. You'll have to hide, if he finds you here I'm history.

Marilyn: What!

Flynn: I've told you before, he's a born again misogynist, has been practically since the day she left. (He moves to the closet and opens the doors). In here, quick.

Marilyn vainly protests as Flynn deftly shoves her into the closet and closes the doors. Flynn finishes this just in time to greet Father as he enters.

Flynn: Mon Pere!

Father: Still here are you? I reckoned on you being out seeking some form of gainful employment as I suggested, more than the once.

Flynn: Honestly. You can be so old fashioned at times; no one's working these days, it's the latest trend. What's the matter with you, don't you read popular press?

Father: I stopped reading newspapers when they outlawed `page three'.

Flynn: For someone who claims to hate all women you show an almost healthy interest when it comes to studying form.

Father: I endorse all methods of disparaging femininity. And as far as you're concerned, don't think you can get away with loafing about all your life, waiting for the cycle to repeat itself, like a pair of animated loon-pants. (Pause). Now, were there any calls for me in my absence?

Flynn: Your absence of mind is a permanent feature. I told you I was going out this afternoon.

Father: Sloping off for some secret rendezvous with that little trollop of yours, I expect.

Flynn looks startled.

Yes I know all about her, I'm not entirely stupid and saying that I do not sanction it would be an injustice to disapproval.

Flynn: I had to register my continued state of unemployment today.

Father: For someone who claims to reject all aspects of this society you have no qualms about spending its money.

Flynn: It's rebellion from within; bleeding them dry right under their own noses.

Father: Kosher revolution now is it? (Irritated). Look, did anyone phone up or not? I'm expecting an important call.

Flynn: I find it hard to believe that anyone would wish to make contact with you, but as a matter of fact, yes.

Father: If you are to be believed, which is sadly no longer a matter of course these days, I trust you were not unduly unpleasant to them.

Flynn: Have you developed some hitherto, undisclosed fetish for politeness in your declining years? Anyway, do you honestly imagine for one moment that I would ever insult any such caller without at least establishing their identity in advance?

Father: Well, come on; I haven't got all day you know. I'm a busy man.

Flynn: There was just the one, a woman actually, strange though it may seem.

Father: And?

Flynn: She wouldn't give her name. She left a number though, it's on the pad.

Father looks at the pad, gesturing approvingly. He tears off the page and puts it in his pocket.

Was she someone from the council about that awful smell?

Father: Never you mind. Anyway that stink is the least of the problem. I discovered a puddle of slime in that cupboard this morning, disgusting it was. I can live without closet orgasms first thing. It spoilt my breakfast, put me right off my poached egg it did. It's still there now I shouldn't wonder, it would be too much to expect you to have cleared it up. I doubt that you've even noticed it yet. Do you want to take a look?

Father moves towards the closet. Flynn blocks his path.

Flynn: No, no, that's alright. My vivid imagination is quite capable of envisaging a putrid pool of pus without any extra visual stimulation.

Father: In that case I'll be off again. I have to see a dog about a man.

Flynn: If you weren't so tight you'd have the phone so that we could make outgoing calls as well.

Father: As an ardent advocate of free speech, you, of all people can appreciate my dilemma in these hard times. Besides, it's private business. (He walks to door, then turns back to Flynn). And clear up this mess.

Father exits. Flynn goes to the closet and opens the doors.

Flynn: You can come out now, the all clear has been sounded.

He looks inside the closet and discovers it to be empty, save for a pool of goo. He scoops some up on his finger and sniffs at it; it does not smell at all pleasant! Just then the lights dim. As Flynn moves towards the switch, they flicker on and off. When he touches the switch there is a loud crack as he receives a shock. Finally the lights come back on and Marilyn emerges from the closet in a cloud of mist, her hair is standing up on end.

Where did you come from?

Marilyn: You'll have to ask my parents about that.

Flynn: No. Where were you just now?

Marilyn: You should know. You locked me in the damned cupboard in the first place.

Flynn: You weren't in there a moment ago, I looked.

Marilyn: Well where the hell do you think I've been? Narnia!

Flynn rubs his hand.

What's the matter with your hand? (She examines Flynn's hand. He winces with pain). It's all burnt. You poor thing.

Flynn: I've just been electrocuted. I've always maintained that the wiring here needs replacing. More people have probably perished from shock trauma in this block than in the Estadio Chile. Only here the juice is metered so that you have to pay for the privilege. And if that isn't kinky, I don't know what is.

Marilyn: It was more than likely just a build-up of static, look at my hair.

She reaches out and touches Flynn. They both receive a shock.

Ow! What you need is some proper insulation. (She embraces Flynn). Kiss me.

Flynn: No. Get off, let me go.

Marilyn: Why should I? (She kisses him).

Flynn: (Pulling himself away). I'm gay.

Marilyn: (Grabbing him again). Nonsense. You're just saying that to be fashionable, I can feel it.

Marilyn starts edging Flynn towards the closet.

Flynn: It's true. I have the most defiled orifice known to men.

Marilyn: If that were so you'd have a pronounced limp.

Flynn: You've misconstrued my intentions. I only invited you up here so you could get a feel of things before you moved in properly.

Marilyn: And now I am.

Flynn: Don't betray our friendship.

At last, upon reaching the closet, Marilyn thrusts the pair of them inside. The doors close behind them. There is a series of cries and giggles from within. Mother enters.

Mother: Marilyn, are you here? I found your note. I don't like to intrude, but the door was open. In fact it displays no visible means of security at all. (She sees the room is empty). Oh!

A cry and a bang emanate from within the closet.

Hello, is someone in there? Marilyn, is that you?

There is another muffled cry. Mother opens the closet door and Marilyn steps out.

Marilyn: Mother! I'm so glad to see you.

Mother: What has that awful boy been doing to you? He's taken to locking you in closets now, I see. No doubt in readiness for his return to commit some depraved sex-crime upon your fair and unblemished body.

Marilyn: It wasn't like that at all.

Mother: There's no point in arguing with me Marilyn, I can see it all.

Flynn emerges sheepishly from the closet.

What's this! The situation proves to be far worse than I at first suspected. The foul deed was being enacted even as I ascended the staircase. I shall complain to the council at once. If the lift had been in service I should have averted this ghastly misdemeanour. Come with me at once child, there are tests which must now be performed to ascertain the extent of this deviance.

Mother grabs Marilyn by the arm and drags her off.

Flynn: Well, I suppose I had better start clearing this lot up. (He waves him arm about to indicate the general untidiness of the room). Otherwise he'll only moan when he comes back. If he wasn't so set in his ways he could marry again and do us both a favour. He can be really selfish at times. A little exploitation of others to ones own ends never hurt anyone who mattered. (He starts to tidy up in a half-hearted manner. He picks up a pile of junk and goes to place it in the closet, but as he reaches it, the doors slam shut). Damn! (He puts down what he has been carrying and attempts to open the doors. They will not budge). Right, I'll soon sort you out. I'm used to people playing hard to get with me and I always get my own way in the end. Don't think that because you're a supposedly inanimate object it will make the slightest difference to me. The same basic principles of self apply to all situations. I have a set of screwdrivers and a large, unwieldy crowbar, that I use on occasion to supplement my meagre government administered assistance, hidden under the bed. I'm going to go and fetch them and when I get back you'll be extremely sorry you ever crossed me.

Flynn goes into bedroom. Father enters crossly. He slams the door.

Father: Flynn! (He takes off his coat and throws it onto a chair). I thought I told you to clear up this bloody mess.

Flynn hurriedly re-enters clutching a crowbar. Realising this, he tries to conceal it behind his back.

Flynn: That was quick. I expected you to be gone longer.

Father: Obviously. What have you got there?

Flynn: Nothing.

Father: (Giving Flynn a hard stare). Behind your back.

Flynn: (Owning up). Oh, you mean this. (Reveals crowbar). I was, er, cleaning up.

Father: Cleaning up! One surely cleans up with a broom or if they're unnecessarily affluent, a vacuum cleaner. But one does not ever, in circumstances however unfeasible, clean up with a crowbar. A crowbar is an implement for forcing entry which, to the best of my knowledge, possesses no potential for hygienic application.

Flynn: Then it's phallic appearance is most appropriate.

Father: Don't you get clever with me.

Flynn: It would be a waste of time for me to vest any seroius inclination in such a futile pursuit. Now, as I was about to explain before you so predictably interrupted me: I was going to place the majority of the junk that you see before you, cluttering up the living quarters, in that spacious closet that dominates that (Pointing). corner of the room. However, it refused to yield to my more restrained methods of gaining access.

Father: (Walking towards closet). Well it opened perfectly adequately this morning, though you were quite oblivious to the fact; even the creaking of its rusted hinges did not disturb you from your slumber. Sleeping off another chemically induced period of karma, no doubt.

Flynn: Just don't forget that it's my turn in the bed tonight, so change the sheets. I've got it all arranged.

Father: If it hadn't opened earlier I wouldn't have been aware of the slime now, would I? (He opens the closet doors with consummate ease). See.

Flynn drops the crowbar on his foot in surprise.

Flynn: It's a good job that these boots have a protective metal toecap.

Father: One of your many fetishes I presume.

Flynn: There is nothing untoward about post-metatarsal safety. People should take greater care of their feet. A sizable portion of the retail industry is dependant on their very existence, not to mention chiropodists and pedicures.

Father: You're quite right, it's our duty to safeguard and bolster every element of the failing economy of the nation. (He looks into the closet). It's gone!

Flynn: What's gone?

Father: This morning, the whole alcove floor was awash, now there's nothing in here but that especially pungent odour. I hope you weren't going to put any of my belongings in here.

Flynn: I would hesitate to even allocate any of your possessions to the dustbin, such is their total lack of worth. The effort required to perform the task would barely equate the satisfaction gained by their non-existence. Most of them are barely clinging on to being as it is. Take this for example. (He holds aloft a broken sextant).

Father: I admit that it's not particularly proficient in any of its functions but it's always proved more than adequate for me.

Flynn: Never has a single sentence so aptly summed up your abject lack of achievement. A relic from your seafaring days I presume?

Father: My generation never had half your opportunities and yet all you can say is that you've squandered more.

Flynn: What are resources for if not to be expended in the pursuit of hedonistic nirvana? At least the actions of my peers will ensure that should we sire any offspring, they will be, of necessity, inclined to a more frugal disposition. That's no bad thing, they will be the children that your generation always wanted.

Father: I rue the day that you were spawned, that's for sure.

Flynn: Do I detect from the harsh tone of your voice that your earlier meeting did not go according to plan?

Father: Correct. I arrived at the appointed place spot on time, only to be greeted by a rather terse, impersonal note.

Flynn: What did it say?

Father: `Urgent business to attend, back as soon as possible.' Typical woman, just like your mother.

Flynn: Whatever became of her? You never did tell me. All I can remember is that she was there one day and gone the next.

Father: She was taken—

Flynn: You mean—

Father: No, she was taken advantage of by a dairy roundsman. Lured away by the promise of his double cream.

Flynn: Hence your supposed vegan diet.

Father: Who could stomach another mouthful of mammalian magma or even the smallest smidgen of fermented curd after such an ordeal?

Flynn: They refuse to deliver above the twelfth floor anyway; some sort of superstition, I suppose.

Father: It's against union rules; they only allow a certain degree of physical exertion without the installation of resuscitation equipment on the float and with the lifts permanently out of order we don't exactly figure prominently in their itinery.

Flynn: I'm well aware of the fact every time I have to traipse down the supermarket before I can have my breakfast. If you could be bothered to get the fridge repaired, I could at least stock up for the week.

Father: You are an advocate of unnecessary expense on the quiet. Until such time as the heating system here chooses to function I see no requirement for any artificial methods of refrigeration. Besides, from what I've heard, you're a cold enough fish as it is.

Flynn: You shouldn't pay too much attention to what other people say. Don't you know that gossip is for inventing, not repeating, that's the work of loose-tongued fishwives.

Father: At times you are indeed your father's son.

Flynn: You think that I'm proud of it?

Father: I doubt it, but I am. At moments like this I consider your upbringing almost a success.

Flynn: Before you become too ecstatic and start proposing a toast to single-parenthood I'm going out. As you like being on your own so much I'm sure that you will enjoy the solitude immensely.

Flynn exits.

Father: What am I to do with that boy? Still, with any luck all my problems in that department will be sorted out before much longer. (He turns on the television and flicks through the channels). Nothing on as usual; a dozen entertainment satellites and not one decent programme between them, and the pirates don't operate till gone midnight. (He turns the television off). I might as well clear this junk up myself. If it's left to him it'll stay on the floor till entropy occurs. (He places some junk in the closet). If he's had his tools out again, the bedroom is bound to be in a mess as well.

Father goes into the bedroom and returns carrying more stuff, he goes to put it into the closet. The doors close behind him, shutting him in. The television turns itself on. There is a knock at the door. After a pause the door opens and Marilyn enters.

Marilyn: Hello, Flynn. Where are you? I have something important to tell you. (She looks around the room then goes into the bathroom and bedroom).

There is a bang on the closet door. Marilyn, upon hearing this emerges from the bedroom and bumps into Father who is stumbling out of the closet.

Marilyn: (Confused). Flynn?

Father: Do I look like him?

Marilyn: Oh, I'm so sorry.

Father: I should Think so too; entering a man's inner sanctum and locking him in his own closet in readiness to ransack the place.

Marilyn: I did no such thing. In any case, if the doors were locked how did you get out?

Father: I presumed that you had a change of heart and thought better of your nefarious deed. Obviously I have misjudged you. You had better have a good excuse for being here.

Marilyn: I came to see Flynn. He told me that if no-one answered the door it would be safe to come in and wait.

Father: Don't you think that you see enough of him as it is?

Marilyn: If there were twice as many hours in the day that would still not be possible.

Father: I suppose he said that it would be alright for you to make yourself at home, watch tv. and generally snoop about as the fancy takes you.

Marilyn: Not at all. The television was already on when I entered, so I assumed that he must be in here somewhere.

Father: You know him well enough to look in the bedroom first?

Marilyn: He told me that you share it and that it was his turn tonight.

Father: It was your turn tonight as well by the look of you, all tarted up like that.

Marilyn: I like to maintain a high standard of appearance at all times.

Father: Then for the sake of common decency may your moral tone never drop.

Marilyn points to the television, which is showing a pornographic film.

Marilyn: What about that, then? You call me a few choice names and then have the audacity to sit around watching that filth all day.

Father: I told you. I didn't turn it on. I was locked in the closet.

Marilyn: Well it certainly wasn't me.

Father: If that son of mine has been up to his tricks again I shall have it out with him as soon as he returns.

Marilyn: Poor thing! If this is the way that you treat him, I'm not surprised he's the way he is.

Father: I thought he could do no wrong as far as you were concerned? I thought the green-eyed monster was your little blue-eyed boy?

Marilyn: And so he is, it's not his fault. He's all upset.

Father: Upset! He's made a career out of being upset. In fact it's the only career move he's ever made. I despair of him.

Marilyn: You're too quick to judge other people by your own double standards.

Father: Sad times when a parent cannot ever criticise his own offspring out of hand.

Marilyn: Have you any idea where your wayward child is or when he is likely to return?

Father: He simply informed me that he was going out. He'll probably be hours yet.

Flynn enters carrying a shoe-box.

Where have you been till this hour?

Flynn: Down the precinct, it was late night opening.

Father: What of it, you haven't got any money?

Flynn: I'm well aware of that, my giro doesn't come till at least tomorrow. I was there on the off-chance or some opportunist petty theft.

Father: Not shoplifting again?

Flynn: No. I was forced to resort to a spot of pick-pocketing so that I could legitimately purchase the desired goods.

Marilyn: So long as you enjoyed yourself I'm prepared to forgive you on therapeutic grounds.

Flynn: Stop sounding like a social worker. Besides, I sold my soul long ago on the basis of never having to work again. Unfortunately I neglected to read the small print in the contract; apparently it's no longer in my mandate to have a good time. Still, where would we be in this world without the po-faced amongst us?

Marilyn: What did you buy then?

Flynn: Some new boots.

Father: You must have at least a dozen pairs already.

Flynn: Not like these. (He opens the box and produces the new boots, which he proceeds to put on). These boots are static resistant, you know.

Father: Very useful, I'm sure. Should you ever be assailed by a maniac displaying a flagrant disregard for our out-moded laws pertaining to molestation and armed with a Van Der Graaf generator, they'll stand you in exceptionally good stead.

Flynn: How much do you think they cost then?

Marilyn: Do you mean in respect of slaughtered livestock or would you like us to address the matter purely in monetary terminology.

Flynn: That is a stance best confined to economists and politicians, but yes I was indeed referring fiscally to the Sterling retail value of the aforementioned items of protective footwear.

Father: How the hell should I know?

Flynn: Live dangerously for once, hazard a guess.

Father: Thirty-six pounds?

Flynn: (Boasting). You can double that and add five. These are real quality, there's a good three pensions' worth here.

Marilyn: You are displaying a remarkable degree of arithmetic dexterity for this late hour.

Flynn: Being numerically articulate has always been one of my greater assets.

Father: Then how come you were relieved from your position at the bingo hall?

Flynn: That owed nothing to dubious digital proximity. I gave great job satisfaction and received same, especially from the kiosk girl who worked alternate Saturdays. One afternoon, between sessions, the manager located us indulging in one of our own; inflagrante behind the caller's lectern. Fellatius interruptus it was; balls everywhere.

Father: Sounds to me like it owes everything to it.

Marilyn: So I was right in assuming that your homosexual stance was just a ruse.

Flynn: It was the best job I ever had.

Father: The only one you mean, and you'll never get another with your hair looking like that; all up on end like an electrified poodle.

Flynn: I ain't gonna be no bank clerk.

Father: You can't shock me any more with your behaviour, not that you ever did, mind. You haven't got an original idea in your head, you think putting a safety pin through your nose is going to change the world instead of merely turning yours septic. It's high time you realised that there's more to life that following the latest fashion trend for a few months and then jumping on the next bandwagon that rolls along.

Flynn: I ain't ever gonna change. This is the real me expressing myself.

Father: Whatever you're trying to say, then, must be in gibberish or some other obscure foreign language in which I've yet to be versed.

Flynn: That gives me boundless scope.

Father: In your own way you're as bad as those tribesman who take to carrying on with crockery items attached to their lower mandibles that respectable folk pass round of a Sunday tea time when offering the local vicar a selection of cucumber based delicacies.

Flynn: We're all derivative in a way. It's no fault of mine that you chose to look no further that your immediate forebears. Decency is the scourge of those too inhibited to embark upon anything other that the accepted norm. Why do you think it took so long for us to escape the cave mentality? Your ancestors used to eat their peers. I expect that you have photographic evidence somewhere of them swinging from the trees. Looking at you, I reckon that I must be solely derived from my matriarchal genes. In your instance d.n.a. obviously stood for `did not appreciate'. Either that or you were nothing but the victim of a convenience marriage and my real father was some rancorous door-to-door salesman,who having targeted the area and ringing his corner of the market, quickly moved on, leaving his own unique calling card. Perhaps that would explain my tendency to roam.

Father: You've never been further than the end of your own nose.

Flynn: In a purely physical sense that's as maybe, but within the confines of my own mind I have explored the length and breadth of the cosmos; there is in fact no bounds to my intellectual domain.

Father: You should not speak ill of the dead; they have no right of reply without a medium and besides, I've always been highly sceptical of supernatural phenomenon.

Marilyn: I would have thought them the only ones the likes of you would ever risk hurling insults at.

Flynn: You old faker. Even as recently as this afternoon you were maintaining that my mother had absconded with the milkman.

Father: It was but a euphemism for the eternal stealer of human kindness.

Flynn: You don't mean—

Father: I'm afraid so, she was enticed into the clutches of one of the more bizarre quasi-religious sects that seek to promote their somewhat obscure ritualistic practices upon unsuspecting members of the public at large in these dark and desperate days. She ended up an altar sacrifice I'm led to believe, there was a small article to a similar affect in the national press at the time but the whole sordid affair soon faded from the common consciousness.

Marilyn: (To Father). You mean to say that you've been lying to him all these years?

Father: It is a sad day when a parent cannot misinform his own kin for fear of chastisement from a casual acquaintance.

Marilyn: There is nothing casual about our relationship, I am to bear his child.

Father: What is this nonsense!

Flynn: It's true, we consummated our relationship earlier in true Catholic style.

Father: How can you lie to me like this? You've never paid attention to a word I've said. There must be outside influences at work.

Marilyn: We might even have got married, were such a union not against all my principles of freedom.

Father: A simple set of vows governing intimate relationship is hardly an infringement of basic human rights.

Marilyn: My mother warned me about men like you; trying to twist the words of, an until recently, innocent young girl around to satisfy your own ends.

Father: She sounds every inch a woman who has spent too long burning her candle at both ends. And to pass such a trait from one generation down to the next is beyond reprehension.

Flynn: Let's not get into any arguments here that we cannot settle amicably before bedtime.

Father: I would have thought that making up was your favourite part.

Flynn: That may well be the case, but never with you.

Father: Enough of this jovial banter. (To Marilyn). Kindly state your business, then leave, young lady. I wish to retire.

Flynn: That is something I achieved ages ago.

Father: I'll come to that in a moment.

Marilyn: I came to confirm, with Flynn, the details of my impregnation, but they seem to have already slipped out into public domain during the course of the somewhat less than casual conversation.

Father: If it was only confidential information that had slipped out, there would be nothing to worry about.

Marilyn: Who's worrying?

Marilyn exits.

Father: That girl has no shame.

Flynn: That's a fact. The only shame around here is you.

Father: Oh really! And what have you got planned for tomorrow?

Flynn: I was thinking of keeping all my options open, but if you have a positive suggestion I'm sure that I can find a window.

Father: Your currently exist in one giant glass house.

Flynn: In that case, would you kindly refrain from throwing stones at it.

Father: I would like to think that instead of lazing about here all day in this dump, encouraging supernatural phenomenon to occur, you might go down to the agency and find yourself a job.

Flynn: A job! I'm far too busy getting a life. (Pause). What did you mean by supernatural mumbo-jumbo?

Father: I meant that doors do not open and close of their own accord — other than in tacky `have a nice day' shopping centres, televisions do not switch themselves on and strange manifestations are far from the norm, even in this block. You may have been too blind to see it but I've been keeping a record of these peculiar events from the start.

Flynn: Constantly wearing sunglasses has not clouded my vision. I'm a firm believer in there being a logical explanation for every occurrence in life.

Father: So did I until you evolved. You're the most illogical happening I've ever come across.

Flynn: That is one thing you can't blame me for; and one thing I can't blame you for is being persona non grata at the employment agency.

Father: You really have the knack for making yourself unpopular off to a fine art.

Flynn: I'm sure that Marilyn would hotly dispute that.

Father: In a patriarchal society, women are always the exception to the rule. (Pause). So what did you do to upset them?

Flynn: I went for an interview and filled in a few forms; they said I was not taking it seriously. I told them that I could type sixty words per minute; unlikely as it may seem, they were going to offer me a position on the spot until I added that it was only in Polish.

Father: I can wholly sympathise with their attitude. That's the kind of racist remark that causes unrest.

Flynn: We're all members of the human race, present company excepted, so if people choose to make such petty distinctions of themselves, they deserve to be mocked.

Father: I would have thought that you would consider everyone being the same conducive to a boring life.

Flynn: I don't know, some of the dullest people I know have spent their entire existence trying to be unique. The truth of the matter is—

Father: The truth is not the point, it never is. You really don't know anything, do you?

Flynn: That is precisely the point that I have been attempting to put across all along.

Father: Are you always this long winded? I mean it's taken your entire life to get this far and you're still wrong.

Flynn: Oh?

Father: Everyone has a purpose in life, you've obviously yet to discover your true vocation.

Flynn: Someone has to do nothing to maintain the equilibrium.

Father: It doesn't have to be you though.

Flynn: Why not? You could introduce me to your ever decreasing circle of friends as your `social stigma'. Don't you think the title has a certain ring to it?

Father: The only ring that you possess occasionally manifests itself through your nose; you're so bullish, but don't think you can buy me so cheaply.

Flynn: It's your talk that is cheap and still you speak way beyond your means.

Father: It's high time that you knuckled down to the harsh realities of life and were grateful for what you've got.

Flynn: Should I awake one morning and discover myself to have been transmogrified, during my slumber, into a middle-aged, middle-class, suburban housewife, with nothing that is more challenging than attending endless coffee-mornings and deciding which flock would go best in the study, to while away the hours, then I there is every chance of that occurring. However, I suspect that the Stygian boatman will be acquiring a selection of thermal undergarments and putting in a requisition order for an icebreaker, long before any such eventuality comes to pass.

Father: You have some ambition then?

Flynn: I would hesitate to make public any aspirations that I may choose to hold on the grounds that failure is open to ridicule. If I ever achieve any of my goals, you'll be the first to know, I can assure you of that.

Father: But in the meantime you'll be quite content to continue trudging over the same old ground. Don't you know that familiarity breeds contempt?

Flynn: I've never been familiar with you and yet I cannot think of anyone whom I hold with greater contempt.

Father: I think it's time that we went to bed, although in your case, if you prove to be half as obnoxious in repose as you are in your waking hours, I can hardly envisage the sandman welcoming you into his domain with open arms.

Flynn: Another big day ahead of you?

Father: Why the sudden interest in my affairs? I'd be making the most of that comfy bed if I were you, it's back out here again tomorrow night, don't forget.

Flynn: Don't worry about that. As a matter of fact I think that I will stay in bed all day tomorrow. And I've suffered more than my fair share of insults from your direction for a twenty-four hour period, so I'll bid you a more than usually restless and troublesome night.

Flynn exits into the bedroom. Father pulls open the sofa-bed, undresses,turns out the light and attempts to sleep. The telephone rings. Father grumpily gets up to answer it.

Father: Is there no rest for the iniquitous given to immorality? (Picks up receiver). What time of day do you think this is to be intruding into someone's privacy? (Pause). Well as a matter of fact I was. (Pause). Yes, I'm sure you were. (Pause). The comparisons are obvious, except of course, for my being a confirmed heterosexual of pronounced celibate inclination. (Pause). And your religious leanings are of negligible interest to me. (Pause). Of course I do. (Pause). Nine-thirty, okay, I'll be there and I trust that you will discipline yourself to be similarly present on this occasion. Goodnight.

Father hangs-up and resumes his relaxed pose. He yawns, then falls asleep. The light flickers on and off, the closet doors open and close, the television switches itself on and keeps changing channel, but he remains blissfully ignorant. Curtain.


ACT TWO

A flat similar to act one only newly decorated and much tidier. The lounge obviously doubles up as an office complete with desk etc.

Mother: Blast, he'll be here any minute.

She goes into another room. There is a ring of the doorbell. She reemerges in a more studious guise; she sports a white laboratory coat, spectacles and a wig which she adjusts as she moves towards the door.

Just coming. (She opens the door). Come in Mr—

Father: (Entering). About time too, I don't like to be kept waiting.

Mother offers him her hand. He does not take it. She ushers him to the desk. They sit.

Mother: You're right on time.

Father: I always like to be punctual where business engagements are concerned. I believe that it says a lot about a person's character. Social functions give rise to ample opportunity for displays of tardiness.

Mother: Quite.

Father: I was therefore very disappointed to discover your absence upon our previous scheduled appointment. Such irresponsibility is not becoming of a woman in your position. I can only advise you that any ill executed repetition of a similar nature must surely thwart future advancement in your chosen field. Not everyone is as forgiving as I am, I can assure you.

Mother: I'm afraid that I was unavoidably detained. (Changing tack). Now what exactly is the purpose of this visit. I know we spoke briefly over the telephone but conversation was kept to a minimum. I find such situations so impersonal.

Father: You surprise me. I would have thought that you held no qualms when dealing with disembodied voices; part and parcel of the post you hold is it not?

Mother: My position is strictly one of self-employment, therefore what may or may not fall under the auspices of my job description is a matter for my own discretion.

Father: It would definitely be beneficial for you to possess a written contract of terms.

Mother: I have a rigid code of ethics that I adhere to; the fact that I devised them myself is neither here nor there.

Father: Your attitude reminds me of a (Pause). Someone I used to know a long time ago.

Mother: Another woman without a doubt. Your manner and gait is that of someone spurned. You carry the troubles of the world on your shoulders. It was a loved one, a wife perhaps?

Father: Remarkably perceptive, but my wife is dead.

Mother: How tragic.

Father: I don't like to dwell upon it, it depresses me so.

Mother: The main problem, though, lies I gather, with your son.

Father: The only person I ever loved—

Mother: Your son?—

Father: A beautiful woman she was, until her eyes were opened to a supposed plane of greater understanding by filthy perverts. Stole her away they did, corrupted her sensitive mind, sacrificed her body and took her soul, leaving me with a young son to bring up on my own.

Mother: Flynn. Yes, I believe that he is the subject of this little tete-a-tete.

Father: I fear that he has been made the victim of some sort of dæmonic possession.

Mother: Have you any proof?

Father: I've been secretly keeping a diary of his every deed and movement.

Father produces a book and hands it to Mother. She stands up and walks round while browsing through the volume.

Mother: From what I can glean out of this by a cursory glance he appears to be the shining example of a normal, ill-mannered young man. He must be almost eighteen now.

Father: His imminent coming of age fills me with dread, what with all these supernatural goings on. But how did you know?

Mother: You come here and yet you still doubt my powers, how curious. On whose recommendation did you chose to consult me?

Father: I saw your advertisement in the local free-sheet which was handed to me in the street by a young and rather mysterious female vendor. No sooner had I noted your address when the paper was wrested from my grip and whisked away by a sudden gale that had blown up from nowhere. Most unnerving, I was forced to seek comfort in the bottle that night.

Mother: Free-sheets to the wind, so to speak.

Father: Let's hope that your psychic skills far overshadow your sense of humour. Anyway, what with you residing in the same block and all I thought that the opportunity was too good to overlook. One thing that does strike me as odd is how the council let you use this accommodation so blatantly in the line of business when it quite clearly forbids it in the terms of the tenancy.

Mother: I have my methods.

Father: You don't mean to say that you've bought this place?

Mother: No, my financial dealings are kept to a more personal level. I have connections in high places.

Father: I am sure that your credentials are impeccable. What do you intend to do in relation to my wayward brat.

Mother: Immolation proves to be very popular at the present time, or were you bearing in mind something a fraction more permanent?

Father: How much more permanent can you get? Death has always struck me as pretty final in the general order of things.

Mother: Do not let yourself be lured into a false sense of security by those who practice more conventional codes of religious ethics. Resurrection is an option open to all at the mumbling of a few choice incantations. No, to render a soul gloriously incapable, a full exorcism is also required if there is even the merest hint of bedevilment.

Father: I see. I realise that you must perform whatever rituals you deem to be necessary but what of the cost? I am by no means a wealthy man.

Mother: My fees are by no means cheap, but I am given to leniency in severe cases where the safety of others is at stake, and, in such a densely populated area as this, there will be every chance, should a satanic manifestation occur.

Father: Traces of ectoplasm have been found, it's all in the journal.

Mother: Excellent, then there will be a strong possibility of you obtaining a grant to cover the cost; the council are uncharacteristically benevolent in such cases. In fact they have recently set up a department specifically for funding of a similar nature. I have it on good authority that properties vacant due to occult occurrences are frowned upon should they show up on the annual census. That is one of the main reasons why I set myself up freelance in the first place.

Father: I myself do not approve of sub-contracting.

Mother: Business is business; a social conscience leaves no room for prosperity.

Father: These are dark days indeed.

Mother: While you are here I feel it would be wise for you to undergo a simple psychic scan yourself, just to be on the safe side.

Father: But surely—

Mother: Think of it as a medical, a mere formality.

Father: Every examination that I have had resulted in either genital manipulation or simple failure, and all were far from formal.

Mother: You display a high degree of scepticism when it comes to the genuinely bizarre and unsavoury aspects of life. A by-product of a red-brick education no doubt.

Father: Try as they might, my parents could not afford me the luxury of a corrupted youth. In fact any abuse I encountered was solely in my quest for self-gratification.

Mother: I'm afraid that it's a sad but widely acknowledged fact that exposure to an intensely religious upbringing or at the very least, incarceration in one of the leading boarded establishments of our time is the minimum requirement for true understanding in such matters. (She motions Father to enter the bedroom). Now will you go through and relax, I'll be with you in a moment.

Father goes into the bedroom. Mother closes the door on him and then walks over to the front door.

Mother: Five, four three, two, one, zero. (She opens the door).

Marilyn enters.

Excellent I sensed you entering the building and timed your arrival to perfection.

Marilyn: Really Mother, you do show off at times. I thought that this was a serious affair?

Mother: It is deadly serious my dear, the very existence of our movement depends on the efficient execution of this particular task. That is why I am using every available opportunity to hone my psychic skills.

Marilyn: How are things progressing?

Mother: I have the old fool in the ante-room at the moment. He displayed a slight hint of suspicion but I put him off the scent.

Marilyn: That couldn't have been easy, this whole business stinks.

Mother: What's this, a change of heart at the eleventh hour?

Marilyn: Mother I have something important to tell you concerning Flynn.

Mother: Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

Marilyn: I am in love with him.

Mother: Yes I know; we must have been through the plan together a dozen times or more.

Marilyn: No. I really do.

Mother: What! That is preposterous, there is no time for petty displays of emotion. We are in the midst of an operation which must be performed with clinical precision.

Marilyn: Just because you're wearing a white coat it doesn't mean that you have to start talking like a doctor. Your only tenuous link with the medical profession was your brief flirtation with that laboratory technician who was employed at the research centre for scientific experimentation on live animals.

Mother: I wished to make a study of their techniques. I am always on the look out for more diverse and horrific methods of administering the sacrificial rite.

Marilyn: Honestly Mother, I never set out to jeopardise anything, I know full well that nothing can come of deliberately causing trouble. It's just that when I met him on the stairwell and broke the news to him that I was pregnant, I saw a tenderness in his eyes that previously only a saint could ever have imagined to exist in one so bitter and twisted.

Mother: But you are not with child, his or anyone else's, are you? That was just another sub-plot to my scheme, this web of intrigue that I am spinning about those unsuspecting members of the less-enlightened sex.

Mother casts her arm up in the air. Marilyn kneels subservient in worship at her feet.

Marilyn: (In awe). You are truly the self-styled black widow of witchcraft, the supreme sorceress of Satan—

Mother: Enough, there is work to be done and I shall be requiring your assistance.

Marilyn: (Rising to feet). I know that he is stupid, but won't he recognise me?

Mother: Since he entered the other room I have been submitting him to a potent hypnotic gesture, by now he wouldn't even know his own mother if she passed him in the street.

Marilyn: He would only insult her if he did. I'm sure the mere mention of her grave would have him salivating in a response that would make Pavlov himself green with envy and as for the Mannekin-Pis, well the mind boggles.

Mother: There is no further requirement for me to wear this ludicrous disguise either, it's just that I like the tint of this hairpiece.

Marilyn: But he doesn't know you anyway, does he?

Mother: You are quite right, but it's always better to be safe than to be sorry don't you think? I mean our paths may have unknowingly crossed in the street or somewhere.

Marilyn: Wouldn't someone with your powers be aware of any previous encounters, brief as they may have been?

Mother: You must remember, my child that I have not always been the psychic potentate that I am today. Besides, if what you have told me is true then that loathsome lover-boy of yours is likely to drop by at any time and he most certainly does know me.

Marilyn: As a matter of fact I have invited him round later and I don't think he'll he the least surprised to see you since you live here, unless of course you persist in sporting that non-to-subtle guise.

Mother: I can see nothing wrong in a woman dressing up to fulfil any fantasy she chooses within the privacy of her own home.

Marilyn: But we don't really live here do we.

Mother: Exactly, and if he comes here won't he become aware of that fact?

Marilyn: It's alright, I've told him that we haven't had time to properly move in yet.

Mother: In any case I see that a display of prudence of previously unrivalled proportions will be necessary from now on if this mission is to be a success.

Mother goes into the bedroom to deal with Father.

Father: About bloody time! I haven't got all day you know. I'm a busy man.

Mother leads Father back on stage.

Mother: I've heard it all before. I told you that your examination would be painless, as a matter of fact the greater part of it has already taken place without you even being aware of it.

Father: I'm used to things going on behind my back.

Mother: For the final stage, however, I require the aid of my assistant.

Father: That makes you sound like a third-rate circus act - and now without further ado-

Mother: Silence. Since you claim your time to be so valuable I shall endeavour to squander as little of it as possible. (She pulls up a chair). Take a seat and I shall begin.

Father sits down.

Now Marilyn you are familiar with the procedure; assume your position so that we may commence.

Marilyn stands behind Father and places her hands on his temples.

Father: (To Marilyn). Don't I know you?

Marilyn looks hesitant.

Mother: (Defusing the situation). I fear that would prove to be an impossibility; my assistant here has spent her entire life in seclusion, dedicating herself to the art. Only now that she is fully trained may she accompany my good self in the line of duty.

Father: What exactly is her role?

Mother: Having proved herself to be a most sagacious student she now acts as a medium for me when an extra degree of mental penetration is needed for complete divulgence in certain aspects of perception.

Father: I see.

Mother: Now if I may have your full and undivided attention I will commence.

Mother stands with her back to Marilyn and Father. She places her hands on her own temples and enters into a trance. Marilyn starts to hum and then shake. Mother starts to moan as she receives information from Father across the ether.

Yes. (Then becoming louder). Yes, yes.

Mother raises her arms in triumph, her voice reaching a crescendo. Suddenly there is a ring of the doorbell. Mother snaps out of her trance, Marilyn screams and Father collapses exhausted to the floor in a faint.

Marilyn: That'll be Flynn.

Mother: This is disastrous, I have a contingency plan to cover every possible situation with the exception of your lover-boy cavorting in here and finding his father prostrate on the floor in a state of consciousness lower than even his accepted norm.

Marilyn: (In a panic). What are we going to do?

Mother: We must try and rouse him.

Marilyn: I shall do no such thing, you are better acquainted with him. Why can't we just pretend that no one is in?

The doorbell rings again.

Mother: I hardly think that is a viable course of action as we have been making enough noise to awaken the dead of seven cemeteries. We'll have to carry him into the bedroom, grab his legs.

Mother and Marilyn pick up Father and carry him into the bedroom. The doorbell rings a third time. Mother emerges and pauses to collect herself and to remove her disguise while Marilyn answers the door. In marches Proctor.

Marilyn: You're not Flynn!

Proctor: I can corroborate that statement without even knowing to whom you were even referring, such is my brash sense of character.

Mother: Well who exactly are you as to be so bold as to sally forth into this, our place of residence without so much as a word by way of introduction or explanation?

Proctor: Forgive me madam, but in my line of duty the opening of a portal is usually accepted as an unconditional invitation to cross the threshold.

Mother: And what exactly is your line of duty?

Proctor: I, madam, am from the council investigations bureau. The department has unearthed a series of discrepancies in your tenancy agreement, on top of which we have also received a number of serious complaints about excess noise during the hours of darkness.

Mother: These are dark times in which we are living.

Proctor: Incantation and the like, the report read if I'm not mistaken and I never am.

Marilyn: We're very sorry if we've caused any trouble.

Proctor: I'm afraid that scant level of apology will far from suffice, I am here to inspect the premises and to serve upon you a notice to quit forthwith.

Proctor thrusts some papers at Mother. She starts to read them.

Mother: This is an outrage. I thought that I had greased all the right palms down at County Hall.

Proctor: You cannot slip the power of the grip held within the secret handshake so easily.

Mother: Is there no honour in corruption these days?

Proctor surveys the room. Marilyn tries to conceal Mother's discarded disguise which is lying on the floor, but to no avail.

Proctor: Been indulging in a little fancy dress have we? Playing at doctors seems a bit kinky to me but I'm not here to censure you for holding any unorthodox sexual bent. As a matter of fact I can detect nothing present here to cause me undue alarm. Now would you be so good as to show me the rest of this abode.

Mother: Marilyn, would you kindly show this, er, gentleman into the um, kitchen.

Marilyn ushers Proctor off into the kitchen. Mother picks up the disguise and goes into the bedroom to check on Father, who is coming to and starts to groan. Mother reemerges just in time to meet them coming out of the kitchen . . .

Proctor: Very good.

Mother: And the next room.

Marilyn and Proctor go into the bathroom. Mother helps the groaning Father into the kitchen. The three again meet face to face.

Proctor: Again, satisfactory.

Father groans from the kitchen.

Mother: (In haste). Finally, the bedroom.

There is another groan from Father.

Proctor: Have you got a man in here somewhere?

Mother: Only if you class yourself in that category.

Proctor: Something immoral has been happening here, I can smell it.

Mother: That's probably my daughter's perfume, I insist that she wears it to detract any wayward admirers.

Proctor: (Pointing to bedroom). Let me take a look in here.

Proctor goes into the bedroom. Mother shuts the door behind him and holds it shut.

Mother: He's in the kitchen, quick, get him out of here.

Marilyn: We shouldn't be doing this; he could be critically injured the way we were interrupted like that.

Mother: There is no time to worry about that now.

Marilyn leads the still dazed Father to the door and bundles him out.

Marilyn: Thank you for calling, do pop in again.

There are cries of complaint from Proctor, he bangs on the door. Mother, realising the danger has passed, lets him out.

Proctor: What is the meaning of this? Holding a council official against his will is a very serious offence. I could have you permanently banished from corporation property for committing an outrage of considerably less magnitude than this, you know.

Mother: I don't know what you're talking about. We're always having this problem. I think that the door jamb must be warped or something.

Proctor: I don't believe a word of it; your feeble excuses cut no ice with me. If the doorway suffers from any defections why has the matter not been reported?

Mother: I am a busy woman, I have no time for trivialities.

Proctor: I'm still far from convinces that you are not guilty of some heinous act of felony or another. So to be on the safe side I must insist that you vacate these premises by six o'clock this evening.

Marilyn: But we only moved in yesterday.

Proctor: I do not think that I am being unreasonable given the gravity of the circumstances laid out before me.

Mother: I am not happy with this situation one iota.

Proctor: There is no use coming over all Grecian on me. This is real life, happiness has no relevance whatsoever.

Mother: You're not going to get away with this, I shall be appealing to a higher authority.

Proctor: I find it inconceivable for a woman of your tenacity to be appealing to anyone.

Mother: I've had my share of detractors over the years but I've never had any trouble stirring up admiration when I've considered it to be advantageous in the pursuit of my ambitions.

Proctor: Much as I'd like to remain here and belittle you some more, I am a busy man. I haven't got time to stand around all day exchanging unpleasantries.

Proctor moves towards the door intending to leave, as he reaches it the doorbell rings and he opens the door before either Mother or Marilyn can reach it. In walks Flynn.

Flynn: (To Proctor). You're not Marilyn!

Proctor: If you are the person for whom I was earlier mistaken upon my arrival, then the insult is compounded manifold.

Proctor Exits.

Flynn: What a loathsome character.

Marilyn: Yes he's the only person I know who is ruder than your own sweet father.

Flynn: Perhaps he's a distant relation or something. Who was he?

Mother: No one for you to worry about. Now, speaking of your punitive parent, have you seen him?

Flynn: It's funny you should mention that, I saw him just now wandering along the corridor in an even more dazed state than usual; drunk again I shouldn't wonder.

Marilyn: Mother, I told you that he was at risk, now his brain could be permanently damaged.

Mother: Will we ever be able to tell? His judgement has always been impaired as far as I can remember.

Marilyn: But surely you've only known him since yesterday.

Mother: You're quite right my dear, but I'm very intuitive.

Flynn: What's been going on? What have you been doing to him? What was he doing here?

Mother: Questions, questions.What do you expect from all this?

Flynn: That's another one that I was hoping you to answer.

Marilyn: It's all quite simple really.

Mother: It is?

Flynn: Well let's hear this extraordinary example of an explanation.

Marilyn: Is my word not enough for you, darling?

Flynn: I was brought up to be highly sceptical of womanspeak.

Marilyn: But I love you.

Flynn: You can hardly expect that to make the slightest bit of difference. If anything, given the gravity of the situation, it should have a negative effect.

Marilyn: There's nothing untoward going on. He just came here to congratulate me on my fertility and to plead with me to make an honest man of you.

Flynn: That doesn't sound at all like him.

Marilyn: Then we had a celebratory drink or two.

Flynn: That's more like it.

Mother: (Sarcastically). We always keep a bottle or two of vintage aside for special occasions such as this.

Marilyn: We begged him to stay and sleep it off but the stubborn old goat insisted on wending his wicked way home of his own accord.

Flynn: I hope that I'm old enough to know better when I'm his age.

Mother: Your present state of mind does not exactly bode well for the future. Are you serving an apprenticeship in idiocy?

Flynn: Do you derive some sort of perverse pleasure out of inviting guests round simply to insult them?

Mother: I fail to recall ever inviting you anywhere. You are the most uninviting person that I've ever encountered. Your presence here is at the bidding of my emotionally maladjusted daughter.

Marilyn: I'm very sorry Mother, if I'd have known how much trouble it would have caused, I'd have ensured that you were out beforehand.

Mother: How almost very thoughtful of you.

Flynn: Need you be so hostile? I didn't intend this to be an antisocial visit, you know. I came to see if I could use your phone.

Mother: I do not make myself a party to such crude forms of communication.

Flynn: I can see that now.

Marilyn: What's the matter?

Flynn: When I got up just now I found the flat had been ransacked; turned completely upside-down it was. At first I thought that the old man had had a restless night, but there was thick slime everywhere and I've never known him to be that unwell before. I would have cleaned some of it up myself but the smell was too much.

Marilyn: So you were going to inform the police?

Flynn: Are you kidding, if we were burgled it more than likely was by the police. No I was going to get onto the council and have something done about the mess, I've heard of rising damp but that is beyond the pale. Our phone only receives incoming calls and a trip to the nearest public kiosk, risking intimate violation, only to find it languishing in an advanced state of vandalism did not warrant close scrutiny. So I came here.

Marilyn: I'm sorry that we cannot be of any help.

Flynn: That's okay. I'm used to being snubbed.

Marilyn: There's no need to be like that. I'll come and give you a hand to clean up if you want.

Flynn: No, I'll manage and if my darling daddy is half as groggy as you claim, seeing you there will be like a red rag, to a bull-headed blackguard like him.

Marilyn: I'll catch you later then.

Flynn: You do that.

Marilyn gives Flynn a peck on the cheek. He exits.

Mother: Much as I disapprove of everything you've just said, I must congratulate you on your integrity; your swift, if somewhat hallucinogenic thinking saved the day back there.

Marilyn: My feelings for Flynn have yet to make me entirely disloyal to you Mother. And you nearly gave the game away with that business about not having a phone.

Mother: It's perfectly true, you know that I form a psychic link with anyone trying to contact me by ringing the appointed number.

Marilyn: But he doesn't and if they confer, suspicions may arise. Besides, wasn't using the `trois-six' a trifle trite.

Mother: Fathers never talk rationally to their children, that's what mothers are for.

Marilyn bursts into tears. Mother comforts her.

What's wrong my child?

Marilyn: (Regaining composure). I'm sorry, you know that I'm highly strung, and I've had an exceptionally taut day. That last remark (Pause). Well it's just that I never knew my father, did I.

Mother: That's the way that it had to be I'm afraid.

Marilyn: What ever became of him?

Mother: Shortly after your germination he accused me of having a torrid affair with a milkman and using an obscure legal loophole, had me confined to a mental institution, where I became converted to the cause of righteousness. After that we lost touch altogether and I was forced to bring you up on my own. At an early age I enroled you in the Academy of the Black Arts so that you would, if nothing else, receive a formal, unbalanced education.

Marilyn: Was I an only child then?

Mother: Does it really matter now after all this time?

Marilyn: It's just that some nights I lie in bed, unable to sleep, and then it suddenly comes to me.

Mother: I shall have to put a stop to that right away.

Marilyn: No Mother, you don't understand. I get this wondrous feeling that I'm not alone in this world after all—

Mother: Of course you're not; you have me—

Marilyn: That I have a long-lost sibling. Tell me that it's true Mother.

Mother: I—

Marilyn: The vision has been especially eminent these past few days.

Mother: I do believe that there was another child, one that your father insisted I was not fit to care for.

Marilyn: Tell me, was it a boy or a girl. Do I have an older brother, or sister?

Mother: The repugnant brat took after its father so it was difficult to tell, but I recall a boy. Your father had, at the time of its birth, a passion for black and white movies, so the child was branded with the awful name of some faded American film star; Gable, Wayne, or some such epithet.

Marilyn: (Quietly to herself). Or Flynn!

Mother: My memory of that period is all too vague. The shock therapy took its toll on certain aspects of my cerebral functioning. (Pause). What was that you said?

Marilyn: Oh, nothing. I'm just popping out for a while Mother.

Mother: Where are you going?

Marilyn: For a walk, I need to get some fresh air into my lungs after all that has happened today.

Mother: There isn't time enough for you to go that far. Our plans have been thrown into disarray by that meddlesome marauder from the ministry. This matter must be brought to its conclusion before the day is out, thanks to his interference.

Marilyn: Can't you go over his head?

Mother: There isn't time for that, he'll be back later to ensure that we are gone.

Marilyn: Then try appealing to his better nature.

Mother: I don't suppose for a second that he has one. Besides, I suspect him of being a charlatan.

Marilyn: Who on earth would ever say he's that which he is not? Only a deranged mind would pose to be something as despicable as an official of the local authority.

Mother: Exactly, that is why it is imperative to complete our business prior to his return.

Marilyn: Very well but I must insist on being allowed to collect my thoughts and regain my composure before we commence.

Mother: That, my child, is a highly commendable suggestion, one which,in fact, displays the utmost wisdom and allays any doubts that I may have harboured over your commitment to the cause.

Marilyn: May I be excused then? I won't be long I promise. I realise how much all this means to you.

Mother: I doubt very much that you fully appreciate the greater implications involved, there is far more at stake now than even I ever imagined at the outset. Our whole future is in the balance. Failure at this stage will cost us everything. The decisions we make for good or ill will affect the future of generations as yet unborn.

Marilyn: For goodness sake Mother, if you must be so dramatic at least try to be a little more original.

Mother: We are in the midst of a crisis. This is no time to be accusing me of plagiarism.

Marilyn: I'm sorry, I'll be back as soon as I've sorted myself out.

Marilyn motions to leave.

Mother: (Calling after her). Make certain that you avoid any undue stress. I shall be requiring your faculties to be in supreme condition when you return.

Marilyn exits.

What ever am I going to do with her? She is far too close to touching on the truth than is healthy for any party concerned. And as if that isn't bad enough there is the added danger of being pipped at the post by the arch deviant himself. (She sighs). My bats have indeed returned to the belfry!

Curtain.


ACT THREE

Scene as act one. Father and Flynn are unharmoniously clearing up the debris.

Father: I still think that you had a wild party in here while I was out.

Flynn: What, in the early afternoon? I suppose that it was an orgiastic tea dance.

Father groans, he clutches his head and slumps down in a chair.

I heard all about your carryings on this morning. I thought that you had dried out; and that was your excuse for having a face like a prune.

Father: This is no time to be making feeble jokes, I feel awful and I can't remember a thing.

Flynn: Not blackouts as well, is there no end to your premature degeneration?

Father: It's no use, I'm going to have to go and have a lie down in a darkened room

Flynn: They say the most cliched cures are the best.

Father goes into the bedroom. Flynn stops work and sits down as soon as he's gone.

I could do with a breather as well. There's no point in me breaking my back doing this otherwise I might as well go and get a job.

There is a knock at the door.

No rest for the wicked. (He gets up). So why is he sleeping so peacefully? Justice is a senile old man.

Flynn opens the door. Marilyn enters.

Marilyn: Flynn my love, I have some important news for you; some good and some bad as well I afraid.

Flynn: Go on then, get it out of your system. Put me out of my misery.

Marilyn: We cannot be married.

Flynn: And what's the bad news?

Marilyn: No, you don't understand. Today, after sixteen years I've found out who my father is.

Flynn: I've spent my entire life trying to forget mine.

Marilyn: Then in that case isn't it perfectly ironic that our parental poltroons have turned out to be one and the same.

Flynn: For someone you never knew you have just uncannily summed him up in a nutshell. He treated you badly as well?

Marilyn: As frightfully as possible, taking into account the fact that he never met me until yesterday.

Flynn: So if you're my baby sister, then that must also make that veritable gorgon my mother. What a hideous concept, I feel distinctly queasy at even the slightest chance that I may one day have to embrace her and pay homage.

Marilyn: Can't you ever look on the bright side?

Flynn: I suppose it's not all bad, she may at least treat me with a modicum of civility.

Marilyn: Yes, after all it was something she said that gave it away. (Pause). Oh no, that's dreadful. I've just remembered something awful.

Flynn: But you said that it was a joyous occasion.

Marilyn: No you don't understand. My mother—

Flynn: Our mother.

Marilyn: (Correcting herself). Our mother, is not the simple, straight forward woman that she appears to be—

Flynn: We are talking about the same person here?

Marilyn: She is a witch. She practices the black art. I fact she does it to perfection. She is able to—

Flynn: I know what a witch is, but who would have thought it, I mean she hasn't even got a broomstick.

Marilyn: If I had one right now I would use it to dust the cobwebs from your mind. Honestly, you're so old fashioned. Sorcery today is not about wizened old hags in pointed hats stirring disembowelled reptilia into bubbling cauldrons. It is a thriving, if somewhat underground, ecclesiastical concern, which, when nurtured in the proclaimed manner, will rise from its fledgling status to dominate all other denominations and reign supreme for all eternity.

Flynn: Well she certainly has put a spell on you, gushing out all that high drama like a ruptured gas main.

Marilyn: And your similes are as unhindered by factual basis as your perception of reality.

Flynn: What is that supposed to mean?

Marilyn: It means, you half-wit, that you are in mortal danger and with me being deign to help you, so am I.

Flynn: A fine mother she is, devouring her young.

Marilyn: If you knew what she has in store for you, you would beg to be swallowed whole.

Flynn: That scenario never strays far from my train of thought.

Marilyn: I expect that it lives in hope of being derailed from your one track mind.

Flynn: Is it not better that I focus my energy rather than have it being mindless and directionless?

Marilyn: Your approach to a crisis verges on nihility.

Flynn: (Angrily). You burst into my life, fall in love with me and seduce me, incestuously I later discover, then to cap it all, predict my imminent demise by as yet undisclosed, murderous methods most foul, all within the space of forty-eight hours; well pardon me for not being the epitome of uptogetherness, but given the circumstances I feel entitled to be able to fall apart at the seams without my overall flappability being called into question.

Marilyn: (Sarcastically). And your petty dramatics would leave a Trappist speechless!

Flynn: So tell me then, how do you intend to alleviate this predicament?

Marilyn: As I see it, Mother only turned her attentions back to after all these years when she realised that your mind was a powerful psychic tool and that in the wrong hands could form a gateway to other, more potent dimensions, and thus prove invaluable to her plan for total domination of mankind. So if we can convince her that the supernatural happenings here of late are nothing whatsoever to do with you then I think that we'll be home and dry.

Flynn: But they are nothing whatsoever to do with me. Don't you think that I would be aware of anything untoward occurring if I was even the slightest bit to blame?

Marilyn: This is a wonderful revelation, I must inform her at once, before she goes too far with her plot.

Flynn: I can't say that I derive great satisfaction out of knowing that I'm not a medium, but merely average.

Marilyn: Is it not better to be ill-bred than dead?

Flynn: How exactly do you intend to convince her that I'm just an ordinary, plain and simple lad and not some mortal melting pot for maladjusted minds?

Marilyn: I'll just tell her the truth.

Flynn: The truth isn't the point, it's what she'll believe.

Marilyn: Stop confusing the issue with negative thoughts.

There is a knock at the door.

Marilyn: Is that your father?

Flynn: Our father.

Marilyn: Sorry, our father.

Flynn: Don't be ridiculous, he lives here. Why would he knock? Besides he's—

There is another more persistent knock.

Is it your mother?

Marilyn: Our mother.

Flynn: Sorry, our mother.

Marilyn: She can't discover me here, she would take a very dim view of the whole affair.

Flynn: Is that the one that we are supposed to be having in her imagination or the unfortunate course of events that took place in our closet yesterday?

Marilyn: I had better hide.

Flynn: This is becoming a regular occurrence with you.

Marilyn runs into the bedroom and closes the door. Flynn answers the front door as another knock commences. Proctor strides in.

Proctor: Ah! We meet again.

Flynn: I can't say that I've had the pleasure of meeting you before. Because what I can recall of our previous encounter, there was none, Mr—

Proctor: You may call me Proctor.

Flynn: Is there any specific reason for this or is it simply your name.

Proctor: I've never encountered any previous requirement for the employment of an alias and I see this case as no exception.

Flynn: Are you the man from the council, have you come about the smell?

Proctor: Is your father in?

Flynn: You haven't answered my question.

Proctor: I should think not, that would mean coming straight to the point, something I seldom do. I see no potential from unduly bothering people with the crux of the matter.

Flynn: That's unusually considerate for a man in your position of officialdom.

Proctor: You haven't answered my question.

Flynn: My father is in repose, he's had a gruelling morning by his account.

Proctor: You doubt his word? It's a sad day when a son can't trust his own father.

Flynn: I trust him to lie to me, is that not enough for any uncaringparent to ask of their young?

Proctor: Since you obviously seem in no great hurry to rouse him frohis slumber, may I have a look around?

Flynn: You may not.

Proctor: I thought as much, but since I have the authority to do so with or without your permission I was but canvassing your opinion on the subject and nothing more.

Proctor strides over to the closet and opens the doors. He gets inside.

I'll instigate my investigation here, even if I may not.

Marilyn screams from within the bedroom. She emerges followed by an irate Father.

Father: What's going on here? Can't a man even have a lie down in his own bedroom without being molested by nubile women?

Flynn: I hardly see that as grounds for pronounced consternation.

Father: Whatever was she doing in there anyway?

Marilyn: I was hiding from my mother.

Flynn: Is that not understandable?

Father: It might be were she actually here.

Flynn: We thought that the old wolf was at the door, but it was him instead.

Father: Who?

Flynn looks around but there is no sign of Proctor.

Flynn: Well he was here a moment ago. There is something very strange going down here.

Father: If that woman has got anything to do with it I'm hardly surprised.

Marilyn: I've got some news for you about that woman.

Father: Oh?

Flynn: But it's not important, she'll tell you later, won't you Marilyn.

Marilyn: Look I really must be getting back before mother starts to wonder where I am; and if that happens we're really in the mire.

Marilyn exits. Proctor reemerges from the closet.

Proctor: The very man himself!

Flynn: Where did you come from?

Proctor: Never mind all that, I wish to converse with your father.

Flynn: But you haven't answered my question.

Proctor: Don't start that again, I have important business to attend to.

Flynn: I hope you haven't set your hopes to high if it's with him.

Father: Unless you want me to add injury to that insult I'd keep quiet if I were you.

Flynn: If I were you I'd tear my own tongue out.

Father: I didn't think that silent protests were your scene.

Proctor: If I might have your attention for one moment.

Flynn and Father cease bickering. Thank you. Exactly how long have you been concealing this astral portal in your closet?

Father: A what?

Proctor: An astral portal, a gateway to another dimension if you like.

Father: (To Flynn). What have you been up to my lad? (To Proctor). I should never have brought him that chemistry set when he was a child. I knew no good would ever come of it.

Proctor: Anything that remains within its confines for more than a few seconds is transported to a corresponding gate in a parallel universe and visa-versa.

Flynn: No wonder so much of his junk fitted in there when I was tidying up.

Father: You mean to say that all my worldly possessions are at this moment in time cluttering up some far off corner of the cosmos?

Proctor: Time is but an abstract concept of man's concoction, but in essence your statement holds the truth, all be it in your own peculiar and simplistic form.

Flynn: How come when I was in there yesterday I didn't go anywhere?

Proctor: In that case the gate must only have been opened this morning, unless of course someone else is controlling it.

Flynn: For a councillor you know an awful lot about important issues.

Proctor: I'm glad that you appreciate my wisdom because I'm going to require your assistance to discover the other end of this time tunnel. I don't recall though ever actually admitting to being a party to civic officialdom.

Flynn: But I was under the impression that you had come here to cure our air pollution problem. My father assured me that someone was coming today.

Father: Well it certainly isn't him, they told me that a woman would be calling.

Proctor: Regardless of their gender I'm sure that if the council informed you that a representative would call today, then one will duly materialise within the next six months; they are very reliable in their own way.

Flynn: What do I have to do then? I'm all for a bit of excitement.

Proctor: It's all quite simple, so you shouldn't encounter ant difficulty. All you have to do is go and stand in the closet and wait till you are transported.

Flynn: I'm game.

Flynn goes to the closet in anticipation.

Proctor: Not so fast you turkey. There is a minor protective procedure which I would like to carry out before you commit yourself. (He produces a packet of powder from his pocket). This will ensure that you come to no harm during your ordeal.

He sprinkles the powder over Flynn. He starts to itch.

Flynn: I've heard of taking things with a pinch of salt but this is ridiculous.

Proctor: You may now enter the chamber without any fear of harm.

Father: If only the rest of life was so simple.

Flynn steps into the closet.

Proctor: Goodbye, and good luck.

Proctor closes the closet doors.

Father: Are you sure he will come to no harm.

Proctor: Fatality is not one hundred percent certain in these circumstances but any life assurance policies will be declared void should any unfortunate incident occur. The small print disclaims any event which happens outside the perimeter of this plane of existence, you see. Not that I believe of course, but disappearances are categorised as acts of God.

Father: I suppose the companies cannot be too careful, otherwise everybody would be claiming that their nearest and dearest had been abducted by extra-terrestrials or something.

Proctor: Precisely, and as such it would stand in the way of business.

Father: And we couldn't have that. I still don't know exactly who you are but I see that we're going to get along just fine. It's good to know that somewhere in the world someone else shares your philosophies. It's a crying shame that not everyone will get to meet their intellectual compatriot.

Proctor: You are a fortunate man indeed for I have a proposition to put to you that will alter the course of your life.

Father: Fire away.

Proctor: Not here. I insist that we return to my office to discuss the sordid details.

Father: What about the boy?

Proctor: Oh he shouldn't return for a good while yet.

Father: Will that powder really protect him from injury; is it some special concoction of yours that will shield him from harm?

Proctor: Good grief no! Danger is all in the mind, the substance which I administered was nothing more than an irritant designed to keep his mind off any peril he might encounter and to prevent him from panicking. Staying calm, in the face of overwhelming adversity, will be a necessity if he is to prevail.

Father: So there's nothing to worry about then?

Proctor: Oh absolutely, but let us dwell on the matter no longer. Come, let us go. Life's too short for deliberation.

Father: Remind me to canvas the custom of some reputable burial bureaux on my way home.

Father puts on his coat and they leave. The closet doors open and out steps Mother, carrying a bag.

Mother: You can come out now Marilyn, the coast is quite clear, they have departed at long last.

Marilyn emerges coughing, she closes the doors behind her.

Marilyn: I thought that I was going to suffocate, you could cut the air in there with a sacrificial dagger.

Mother: I'm afraid that despite crossing the bounds of numerous other dimensions, a vortex such as this one is not furnished with the luxury of atmosphere. The smell in here hardly encourages rapturous respiration either.

Marilyn: Surely we didn't travel to other vistas, you merely tunnelled your way into the etherial passage way using your psychic abilities, so that we could move unseen from our flat to here.Wasn't that a little over the top?

Mother: Nonsense. It was imperative that we were to gain access unseen so that the trap could be baited correctly.

Marilyn: But he almost saw us.

Mother: Averted catastrophes count for nothing when the stakes are as high as the smell of this room.

Marilyn: But what about the other hole you created?

Mother: That was a mistake I admit, a slip of my focused mental energy, after all I hardly expected to see that wretched boy wandering about in there. I knew I should have acted sooner.

Marilyn: Won't there be an imbalance in the network now because of your extra exit.

Mother: That's a chance we'll have to take. When I get down to business you had better stand guard outside, just incase the unthinkable happens.

Marilyn: You don't mean?

Mother: I don't know, I haven't thought of it.

Marilyn: I suppose there is no chance of you not going through with it?

Mother: I beg your pardon. What did you just say?

Marilyn: It's a bit late in the day I know, but is there no chance of you reconsidering. I mean surely it doesn't have to be like this. Is there no other way?

Mother: Of course there isn't you stupid girl, don't you know that there are times when the well being of others must be jeopardised in the interest of the common good.

Marilyn: Mother we are to the best of my knowledge far from the ordinary and I would hesitate to use even a remotely commendable adjective to describe your moral stance even if I were comparing you to Old Nick himself.

Mother: Please don't flatter me at a time like this. An over inflated ego can give rise to error.

Marilyn: What exactly is the plan for this final thrilling instalment of our quest then?

Mother: It's elementary really.

Marilyn: Good, your schemes usually go beyond the bounds of my understanding. I blame the selective education you gave me. I'm sure certain areas of the regulatory curriculum were ignored entirely.

Mother: A reason exists for everything my dear, I brought you up to be able to appreciate my true status. It takes a certain degree of cultural ignorance to be able to recognise the work of a true genius, any fool knows that.

Marilyn: Perhaps you would then care to elaborate upon your plot.

Mother: By all means. While you are outside on the landing, keeping a look out for any unwanted guests, I shall don my disguise and wait for the boy to return, where upon I shall pose as a council official and gain access to the most inner sanctum of his mind before anyone else gets a chance and hallelujah, we'll be home and dry.

Marilyn: What do you intend to do to him?

Mother: It'll all be quite painless, I can assure you of that. Now go and take up your position. I have to prepare myself and it is of paramount importance that I am not disturbed in mid guise.

Marilyn: Just remember that I vehemently disapprove of this whole shenanigan.

Mother: And I'll have you remember that this is a deathly serious business. Now go.

Marilyn exits.

There is no time to lose, I sense his presence returning even as I dither.

Mother produces her disguise from of her bag and proceeds to apply it.

That's much better, he wouldn't recognise his own mother dressed like this. Now I must leave and await his imminent return. His suspicions will be aroused should he return and discover me here.

Mother exits. Flynn emerges from the closet and closes its doors behind him. He is still itching like mad.

Flynn: Curse that stuff (Glancing around). Hello. Is anybody home? Father! (Pause). Well that's nice I must say; they send me off on some dubious mission to the other end of eternity and back again and they don't even have the common courtesy to await my return. (Flynn searches the flat but finds no one.) Although to speak the truth, I can't see what all the fuss was about. Talk about a parallel universe; I go all that way and find nothing more exciting than a dwelling almost identical to this, and what was the oddest thing of all, I'm sure that I had been there before. Deja-vu or what? I've always maintained that I'm not a prisoner in this world because I'm here by choice, and that I can leave whenever I like. But if that's all the other side has to offer then give me confinement any day. (Pause). Perhaps a shower will stop this infernal itching.

Flynn removes his shirt and walks towards the bathroom. There is a knock at the door. Flynn answers it, in strides Mother in her professional guise.

Mother: Good day young man. I am a senior representative of the council.(She briefly flashes an ID). I am here, as you may or may not be aware, to deal with the matter of your malodorous affliction.

Flynn: What are you getting at? I perform my ablutions on a regular basis.

Mother: Not you personally, imbecile child. I am referring to the problem that has been brought to the attention of our housing complaints department.

Flynn: (Suspiciously). Don't I know you?

Mother: I don't think so, our records neglect to show you being accustomed to regular bouts of severe ravishment of a pestilent nature.

Flynn: I should be so fortunate as to endure such a pronounced ravishment of any nature.

Mother: Since dealing with the likes of which is my professional pursuit and our social spheres are unlikely to have overlapped. I sense that we are poles apart in our hedonistic persuasions.

Flynn: I don't know, I've been to some pretty rum dos in my time.

Mother: Out of the question, as a matter of fact I'm a practising recluse in my spare time. Intermingling is not one of my specialties. Now before I start I feel that I should learn a few more details. What is your name?

Flynn: Flynn, but is all this really necessary?

Mother: Flynn what?

Flynn: If you don't know that by now I hardly feel obliged to inform you on this, the eve of your occurrence. Don't you participate in any degree of research before you embark upon a particular case?

Mother: You really ought to be more forthcoming.

Flynn: I've never come fourth in my life and I see no good reason to start now. I only indulge in such pursuits where the achieving of a medal winning position is but a mere formality.

Mother: Very well. Should anything go seriously awry during the course of this exor—, er, during my investigative procedure.

Flynn: Seriously awry? But surely you're only here to rectify the matter of this foul odour. What the hell can go wrong with the performing of a duty that will in all probability amount to nothing more than the administering of the contents of a couple of industrial strength, air freshening, aerosols in the immediate vicinity of this room and at a stretch, the bathroom? I'm afraid that my father has let his standards of personal hygiene drop rather noticeably in the years since my mother's abscondence, but whenever I take it upon myself to bring the matter to his attention, he always claims that I must have an exceptionally acute sense of smell and then he proceeds to strike me violently on the nose with his clenched fist in an attempt to remedy the affliction.

Mother: Cfcs are a proven killer, not to mention the risk from undue penetration of any one of the number of pressurised canisters.

Flynn: In that case why can't I simply vacate the premises and return later when the operation is complete?

Mother: That would initially seem to be the sensible option but I'm afraid that course of action is out of the question. Such evacuative escapades are no longer permitted under our new code of practice. The latest legislation quite clearly states, and I quote, "At least one member of the family unit, or other such group being registered as holding tenancy, shall be present at all times during the commencement of any repairs, modernisation or renovation that is to be carried out at the said address by an official of, or sub-contracted to, the council maintenance division''. It ensures that the job is undertaken to a level of mutual satisfaction at the first visit and most importantly, it increases the level of paperwork pertaining to each individual case to a previously only hinted at, in your most officious nightmare, height of bureaucracy.

Flynn: Very well, what other intrusive details would you care to know?

Mother: Would you prefer to be buried or cremated?

Flynn: This is preposterous!

Mother: Your preference in the event of any little mishap?

Flynn: You may consider being laid to waste a matter of minimal consequence, but I put a far higher value on my existence.

Mother: I'm sorry to hear that; Our funeral budget does not run to the cost of the more flamboyant methods of preinterment, such as crucifixion, besides which they are considered vulgar by the governing committee, you'd never attain the relevant license without a six-month interim and that's hardly a suitable state of affairs if your demise is imminent.

Flynn: Too much of a masonic influence in high places if you ask me. I suppose that an ostentatious cortege stretching half way across the river would be more to their taste?

Mother: Not when they're footing the bill for a spotty little oik like you it wouldn't. You'll be lucky to end up with a coffin that doesn't go soggy in the rain; such is the death grant. So sit yourself down there and don't you be disturbing me with any of your peculiar mannerisms, I have work to do and I need to concentrate.

Flynn: I'll try and restrain my head from performing any three-hundred-and-sixty degree turns for the duration.

Mother: How very interesting that you should choose to say that of all things.

Flynn: It was meant as a joke, ha-ha! See. Your sort are all the same; no consideration for the misfortune of others.

Mother: If you fall short in any department it's your own fault and no mistake, so there's no point in attempting to blame those more gifted than yourself. You should have paid stricter attention in your divinity classes, a spiritually enlightened soul makes good for the alleviation of involuntary muscle spasms. I personally rue the passing of systematic beatings as a means of driving out malign influences from a body. Alas, we now reside in more liberal times, a sound thrashing never did anyone any harm.

Flynn: I'm afraid that I cannot condone acts of violence unless they are committed by consenting adults in their mutual lust for sexual fulfilment.

Proctor enters unseen.

Proctor: Is that strictly in private or wherever they see fit to cavort?

Mother: (To Proctor). How did you get in here?

Proctor: I took the liberty of rendering your assistant incapable, by means of a trick taught to me many years ago by an old Indian mystic. The rest was relatively easy.

Father rushes in, minus his coat.

Father: (Catching his breath). Were you aware that there's a naked woman floating in mid-air out on the landing?

Mother: (To Proctor). Naked! What have you done to her, you fiend?

Father: It's okay, I covered her blushes.

Proctor: I find that removing the subject's clothing is advantageous to the levitational process; particularly in the case of brunettes.

Father: That, I trust would also explain the presence of the sebaceous secretions.

Proctor: Oh my God! There's been another manifestation.

Mother: A-ha! Just as I suspected all along, you've merely assumed the guise of a confirmed atheist for the duration of this particular investigation. You are in reality none other than the Inquisitor-in-Chief aligned to the First Church of Christ the Parapsychological Phenomenon and you have come here to convert this miserable wretch with your twisted doctrine.

Proctor: Parables! But it is far too late to thwart me now. The final act is now upon us, the unstoppable wheels of destiny have at last been set in motion. The prophecy is at hand.

Flynn: But this had nothing whatsoever to do with me.

Mother: Silence, you tiny minded fool.

Proctor: You are nothing if not an accurate judge of character; it's a pity that we were destined to oppose each other for all eternity in a way, but he speaks the truth, even if it is for the first time in his miserable life.

Mother: What do you mean?

Proctor: All along, the boy has been nothing but the unwitting pawn and the apparitions and ectoplasm merely symptoms of my hypnotic gesturing to draw the true source of the power, and therefore the centre of my attentions, out into the open.

Father: If I might interject.

Proctor: Yes, tell them everything.

Flynn: (To Mother). What?

Mother: (To Father). What?

Father: (To Proctor). What?

Proctor points to Father.

Proctor: (Becoming obsessed). Behold, Satan's spawn!

Father: Stuff and nonsense. Are you touched?

Proctor: Nay! You are the tainted one. You carry Beelzebub's signature beneath that cranial rug you sport.

Flynn: He doesn't wear a wig.

Proctor: How little you know.

Mother: (Siding with Proctor). Yes, how can you be so sure?

Flynn: One should always be familiar with one's own father.

Father: It's no use, son. I'm afraid that they're right.

Father: Who is?

Father: (Laughing manically). They both are.

Mother: But that's impossible.

Proctor: He's deluding himself.

Father: Not so.

Father removes his wig, revealing the number of the beast to be clearly tattooed onto his scalp. Flynn gasps.

Proctor: See.

Father then removes the false scalp, revealing a full head of hair underneath. Proctor gasps.

Flynn: (To Proctor and Mother). If you two were half as stupid as you think that you are, you'd still be twice as clever as me.

Proctor and Mother are astounded by the foolishness of this remark. Flynn, realising what he has just said attempts to correct himself.

No! (Becoming confused). What I meant to say was that if I was half as clever as, hold on, that's not right either.

Mother: (In grim realisation). Enough of this babbling. If all this is true then it means that—

Proctor: (In even grimmer realisation). No! It cannot be.

Dæmonic omnipresent voice: Yes, ha-ha-ha-ha!

The closet doors throw themselves open and everyone look around in terror, trying to establish the source of the voice. The lights flicker on and off before finally going out. There is a series of bangs and flashes before the lights finally come back on again to reveal piles of ash where Mother, Father and Proctor previously stood and a smouldering pair of boots where Flynn was. There is a scream and a thud offstage and Marilyn staggers on dressed only in Father's tattered plastic coat smeared in ectoplasm. She surveys the scene, then picks up Flynn's boots and clutches them to her breast.

Marilyn: (Sighing). At least he died with his boots on.

Curtain.


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This page © Kevin Mitchell, 1998.