Pass The Hammer, Ken

Or

When I Nod My Head, You Hit It!

A play by Kevin Mitchell.


ACT ONE

Scene One

Pete and Soapy sit around a table in their flat, drinking beer from cans (They are not on their first, or even their second). Pete is pondering over a sheet of paper.

Pete: (Belches) What about Sandy then, second year beauty therapist, twenty-two, from Wimbledon.

Soapy: You make her sound like a train.

Pete: Well you'd be chuffed to know her.

Soapy: What's her track record then?

Pete: A bit common if you ask me.

Soapy: Which one was she?

Pete: The blonde bint that was round here on Thursday. Smokes, drinks.

Soapy: Oh, her! Nah! Don't want her. She's a fucking lezzer.

Pete: Yeah! How could you tell?

Soapy: Didn't you notice the way she walked, dead give-away. And the smell, phwoor! She must have had those love
ggs in for months. I reckon they'd have hatched if she'd stayed here much longer.

Pete: That just leaves Porkus then.

Soapy: I'm not living with that scruffy git.

Pete: It's not his fault. He's schizophrenic.

Soapy: I don't care if he's bloody tetraplegic, there's no excuse for being untidy. Besides he's a bloke.

Pete: Let's face it, we're never going to find a third party to match Flic, she was something else.

Soapy: Felicity Jane McNaughton-Snyde where are you now?

Pete: You know very well where she is; on a years sabbatical up the Amazon. Trying to find herself and studying the intimate details of Rana temporaria or something.

Soapy: No wonder you flunked your first year. You can find those in any uncluttered example of rural pondage.

Pete: Show me one of them.

Soapy: You're right though, I miss her already.

Pete: It's not the end of the world.

Soapy: No, but it's the other bloody side.

Pete: She was alright, once I laid down a few ground rules, such as having no desire to receive a tonsilectomy without an anaesthetic.

Soapy: That wouldn't be difficult, you're always anaesthetised. Besides it was the other way round if I remember correctly.

Pete: Nonsense, she was gagging for it when she came here.

Soapy: Before she met Adnan.

Pete: Yes, foreign ponce. You try telling me that he's not the real reason she left.

Soapy: What do you expect. I mean, their ways, they're, well they're different aren't they, they're not British.

Pete: Well they hardly speak the finest Queen's where she's gone.

Soapy: I don't understand why we have to find another female flatmate at all. Another geezer to go boozing with would suit me fine.

Pete: Because it states in the tenancy agreement, no single-sex lets, that's why.

Soapy: The landlord's probably some old poof who ain't getting any, so neither can anyone else.

Pete: But orgies of perfectly straight sexual inclination are okay.

Soapy: Yes, what a pervert.

Pete drains his can and throws it towards the bin, then opens another.

Pete: What was that she always used to say?

Soapy: Must you? it's bad enough without you keeping on mentioning her.

Pete: I remember. ``I could never share with other women, they're always splitting hairs. You two slobs are so ignorant you couldn't even knowingly split an infinitive.'' I think it was a term of endearment.

Soapy: I don't know, it never did Star Trek any harm, ``To boldly go, etc.''

Pete: Very appropriate. She was one place I bet no one had ever been before.

The doorbell rings.

Soapy: Who can that be at this time of night?

Pete: (Rising to investigate) Someone pretty damn inconsiderate seeing as we're supposed to be cramming.

Soapy: I thought we were.

Pete: Cramming for life, or at least for the day when alcohol becomes unfashionable will not pass any exams for us.

Soapy: It's a good job I'm a latent genius then.

Soapy proceeds to lean back in his chair to drain his can, resulting in it tipping over backwards sending him sprawling drunkenly to the floor. Pete by now has exited to answer the door. A very beautiful young lady enters brashly. She carries a light bag of personal affects.

Lucky: (Calling to Pete) Can you manage with those cases Peter?

There is a grunt from off-stage preceding Pete's re-entrance. He is laden with baggage.

You may put them down anywhere you think suitable. Bearing in mind, of course, the exquisite nature of my wardrobe contained therein.

Pete: Wardrobe! It feels like you have a whole fitted bedroom in here. They weigh a ton. (He puts the cases down)

Lucky has walked into the room so that Soapy is prone at her feet.

Soapy: (Looking up at her) Flic! Flic what are you doing back here?

Lucky: I'm sorry to have to disappoint you Richard—

Soapy: Please, call me Soapy.

Lucky: Whatever you choose to call yourself is no concern of mine. But who I am, to you, appears to be a matter requiring immediate clarification. For your information, as I briefly informed your grubby partner in crime a few moments ago, I am Felicity's sister, Lucrezia.

Soapy: Lucrezia?

Lucky: Yes. My friends all refer to me as Lucky. What are you going to call me?

Soapy: I never knew Flic had a sister. She never mentioned you once in all the time she was here.

Lucky: That's surprising. There is only a year between us, but we are very close.

Soapy gets to his feet.

Pete: Close isn't the word for it. You're practically identical, apart from your hair. Flic always wears hers much longer.

Soapy: What are you doing here anyway?

Lucky: When Felicity went away she informed me that you two would be requiring another flatmate.

Pete: So?

Lucky: So she said that you would be unlikely to find anyone else willing to share with your gross personality disorders. Your acts of debauchery are of the sort on which legends are based.

Soapy: Ha! Fame at last.

Pete: Roll on fortune.

Lucky: And it just so happened that I was looking for fresh digs at the time, so here I am.

Pete: What about the rent?

Lucky: Ah, yes! Flic said that you would be desperate enough to offer very favourable terms.

Pete: How favourable?

Lucky: Shall we say half of whatever she was paying and no sharing of the domestic chores. I have very creative hands, I should hate anything to occur that might stem their flow.

Pete: You must be joking—

Soapy: Done.

Soapy holds out his hand for Lucky to shake. Pete pulls it down but Soapy immediately offers the other one and the agreement is sealed.

Pete: (To Soapy) Come here a minute. (They go to one side) Are you madder than I thought? How can we afford to—

Soapy: We can't afford not to. Are you blind or what? She's gorgeous. Alright, so we never made it with Flic, except in the smutty recesses of our fervent imaginations, and now she's gone. Five minutes later the next best, or on first impressions even better, thing turns up on our doorstep begging to stay. How can we refuse?

Pete: (Shaking his head) Crazy! (To Lucky) Alright it's a deal.

Lucky: That being the case, and these being mine, would one of you be so kind as to carry my bags through to my sister's old room.

Soapy: (To Pete) But I thought that I was —

Pete: Forget it. You wanted her, you got her.

Soapy: Right then, you can shift her belongings.

Pete: I did it last time.

Soapy: Alright, I'll toss you for it.

They toss a coin.

Pete: Heads. (Soapy reveals the coin) Typical!

Pete picks up the cases and carries them off into another room, cursing under his breath.

Soapy: I can see where you get your name. Good fortune has certainly been with you today.

Lucky: Oh I don't believe in all that Lady Luck nonsense. You make your own in this world. I'm just an expert in manipulating situations to my own best interests, that is all.

Soapy: I, as it happens, was an expert in manipulating your sister where my best interests were concerned. Practically eating out of my hand before she left, she was. It's criminal, she should have stayed. We could have been an item you know.

Lucky: Yes. What a combination you would have made, what with her brains and, her beauty. In fact she has only one fault to my knowledge; her outspoken beliefs. I swear that she lives her life physically a full six inches to the left of everyone else.

Soapy: That would account for her never being able to look me in the eye when we were alone. I'm sure she knew what fate had in store, but as usual, she had to have her own way. Two Heavenly bodies sharing the same soul. That was us.

Lucky: That's very deep.

Soapy: You could drown in me if weren't careful.

Lucky: This Gemini edict of yours is spun from behaviour in sharp contrast to the image my sister portrayed of you. ``Sexist pig,'' I think she said. You were so ignorant in her opinion that she wondered you didn't think that the Holy See was the Virgin Mary's orifice.

Soapy: Don't be ridiculous. Any fool knows that was where Jesus walked on the water.

They both laugh uncomfortably. Pete returns.

Pete: Get us another brew Soap, that was thirsty work.

Soapy: We're out of beer. Don't you know we've been boozing all day?

Pete: I'll settle for a coffee then. I can't have more than trebled the recommended caffeine intake for this week so far.

Soapy: Yes, but it's still only Monday.

Pete: (To Lucky) Would you like one?

Lucky: Making someone a cup of coffee in their own home, how quaint.

Pete: I live here too remember, besides, he's making it. (To Soapy) Go on, get off your arse for five minutes. Who knows, the exercise may even kill you.

Soapy: If it does you can find another flatmate on your own.

Soapy goes off into the kitchen to make the coffee.

Lucky: Well, Peter.

Pete: Please, call me Pete.

Lucky: That makes you sound far more fertile that my sister ever recounted.

Pete: Ha! That sounds like her; always joking. In actual fact we were very close.

Lucky: Really?

Pete: Yes, often there was not a Rizla's width between us, and in public too.

Lucky: Mature love is such a wonderful thing.

Pete: In fact we were always at it. Flic insisted that it was ill-mannered to want to make love to someone only once.

Lucky: And you not being one ever wanting to appear discourteous.

Pete: Exactly.

Lucky: Fortunately I have never been afflicted by such an emotional weakness.

Pete: How Alaskan.

Lucky: Nonsense, it's merely a question of rationalising circumstances, and striking in a pre-emptive fashion with an alternative and more self-satisfying solution.

Pete: Such as?

Lucky: Stick around.

Pete: Not giving much away are you.

Lucky looks at him suggestively.

Oh, I get it.

Soapy returns with two cups and hands them to Lucky and Pete. He then returns to go and fetch his own.

Lucky: (Sipping her coffee) It's alright, you have this one. I need a lot more sugar.

Soapy: (Turning back again) Are you sure? You look sweet enough to me.

Pete: (Offering his to Lucky) Have mine. I'm sure you'll find it more to your taste.

Lucky: (Rising) No thank you. (Walking towards the kitchen) Besides can't you appreciate a token gesture when you see one. I should if I were you, it's the only one I'm likely to make.

Lucky exits.

Soapy: We've landed a live one there.

Pete: Yes you can say that again several times. She's as coy as a catch of exotic carp too.

Soapy: Oh, What have I missed?

Pete: The boat as usual.

Soapy: I hope that you're not going to go off at one of your tangents.

Pete: Why not? It would appear to be most appropriate, what with your obvious intentions of instigating some bizarre kind of love triangle.

Lucky returns with another cup of coffee. Overhearing the end of the conversation.

Lucky: Revising trigonometry boys?

Pete: No, just judging a book by its transparent cover.

Soapy: I prefer being see-through to being opaque due to a permanent fog of the head.

Pete: If you're going to take a swipe at someone you should remember to lace your gloves up properly beforehand.

Soapy: And what, pray, do you mean by that?

Pete: Quod erat demonstrandum. Ergo another crushing defeat administered by the overwhelmingly superior intellect of the intended victim, id est — moi.

Soapy: I wish that I could speak so many languages in a single sentence.

Lucky: If I may be allowed to interrupt for one moment, I should like to condescend and state that the sole language either of you appear to be able to utter with any hint of fluency, is `crap'.

Soapy: Nonsense. We're just feeling a trifle lethargic after the stress and strains of a long, hard days—

Lucky: Drinking, unless the more easily gleanable facts of this cosy little tableau deceive me.

Pete: Everyone is entitled to unwind once in a while, are they not?

Lucky: Yes, but you two are completely unravelled.

Pete: Why don't you join us in a proper drink?

Lucky: I thought that you had extinguished your supply.

Pete: (Getting to his feet) I always keep an emergency ration tucked away for when sudden crisis such as this rear their ugly heads.

Lucky: Crisis, what crisis?

Pete: The off-license doesn't open for another nine and a half hours.

Pete walks over to the desk and produces a half full bottle of whisky. Soapy has fallen into a drunken slumber and begins to snore.

Lucky: I fear your friend has just capitulated to the forces of nature.

Pete: (Returning with bottle) Looks like it's just you and me then, kid.

Lucky: I'm afraid not, I've had a long, tiring journey and I need my beauty sleep. One must keep up appearances you know. I'm sure that you are used to such disappointment by now, so I'll simply not love you and leave you.

Lucky exits to bedroom. Pete consoles himself with large swigs of the whisky. Lights fade.


Scene Two

Morning. Pete is slumped over the table asleep, the empty whisky bottle is close to hand. Soapy whistles cheerily, he is frying a large, unhealthy breakfast.

Soapy: Are you going to just slouch there all day? You're missing a glorious morning you know. (He goes and sits at the table with his fare) Hello, are you still alive?

Pete grunts. Soapy waves a sausage under his nose.

There is some grub left if you want it.

Pete staggers to his feet and makes his way to the kitchen area.

Pete: (Clutching his head) Oh, my poor head! I think my brain must have sublet to an elephants' tap school. (He gets himself breakfast)

Soapy: (Holding up the empty whisky bottle) If you drunk all this, as well, last night I have no sympathy for you whatsoever. You might have woken me up you selfish swine.

Pete: (Carrying plate to table) That's not all though. I had this really weird dream last night. I dreamt that Flic had not gone away at all and that she was sitting here as large as life and twice as beautiful.

Enter Lucky from bedroom, unseen.

Lucky: Good morning boys. (She smells the cooking).

Pete drops his plate onto the floor.

Have you been playing host to a pyromaniacs convention, or do your breakfast preparations always have that subtle hint of crematoria about them? (She goes into the bathroom).

Pete: (To Soapy) Pinch me Soap, I must still be dreaming.

Soapy: I would gladly punch you out if I thought that I would have the desired effect.

Lucky: (From bathroom) Ugh! Have either of you ablutive amoebas been using my toothbrush?

Pete: It was probably him. (Gesturing towards Soapy) He thinks that hygiene is something that you say when greeting someone called—

Lucky: Then his threshold for cleanliness is on par with your sense of humour. It's absolutely disgusting, we might as well French-kiss and be done with it.

Soapy raises an eyebrow.

Don't even think about it. I'd rather exchange bodily fluids with a leprous Labrador.

Pete: There are only two types of women in this world; those who are chaste, and those who would like to be.

Lucky: Kindly refrain from flinging such wild accusations at me.

Soapy: You are too like your sister for your own good.

Lucky: What do you expect. We are two bodies, but a single spirit.

Pete: That's all we need — Siamese soul mates.

Lucky: At least we're not joined at the mess. Don't you ever clear up.

Soapy: We do our best whenever we can.

Lucky: Ha! A pint of plankton could perform a more puritanical plethora of polishing than you pathetic plebs.

Pete: Stand clear, she's over alliterating.

Soapy: What can we do?

Pete: Some compunctive co-operation may be called for.

Soapy: Sounds drastic.

Pete: Afraid so, but when all else fails one must try being nice.

Lucky: For Christ's sake stop blathering.

Pete: It's worked, and we haven't even started yet.

Soapy: That was too close.

Lucky: If you two cretins have any serious intentions of making amends, pay extremely close attention to me this instant.

They do.

I've been thinking. Now I can appreciate that such a concept may be completely alien to you, but the outcome of my pondering is surely not; I've decided to throw a party.

Pete: Whatever for?

Soapy: Who cares.

Lucky: I knew that you would go for it. As a matter of fact it's to celebrate my arrival, and, Flic's leaving. I understand she left in rather a hurry.

Pete: I should say, she barely took her toothbrush.

Lucky: That I can quite understand. Now it is my intention to have this `bit-of-a-do' here on Friday night—

Soapy: Party on—

Lucky: Unfortunately I have an extremely hectic schedule this week — enough to daunt even one as capable and efficient as myself, so I am going to have to go against my better judgement and delegate the majority of the hard graft arranging. Now who do I know that would be willing, have time enough on their hands and a wealth of experience in the organising and execution of an orgiastic happening of Caligulan proportions?

Pete: We can do it.

Lucky: No, I couldn't ask you, it would be to much of an imposition after everything that you've done for me already. I couldn't possibly put you out any further.

Soapy: No, it's perfectly okay, we don't mind at all.

Pete: That's right we'd be honoured.

Lucky: Alright then, and who knows boys, if you do it relatively competently there may well be something in it for you.

Soapy: So long as it's not just money.

Pete: To right, that would be just like having a job.

Pete
&:
Ugh! (They shudder at the thought)
Soapy

Lucky: You might as well get started right away, strike while the iron's hot as I believe they are inclined to utter in certain less cultured circles than I am usually inclined move.

Pete: What would you have us do?

Lucky: Now there's a question — as for the party, I have compiled a list. (She proceeds to produce a lengthy list from her bag)

Soapy: Oh What!

Lucky: (Handing list to Pete) You should have no problems, the instructions are most explicit. Not even a pair as retarded as you two purport to be could hash them.

Pete and Soapy scrutinise list.

Pete: And how would you have us pay for all this? I'm going to need more than three wishes for my grant to cover this lot.

Lucky: Panic not, `O excitable one', my sister, for whom lack of endowment was never a problem, has accounts at every one of the reputable outlets listed at the foot of page seven, attached to which you will find a letter of authorisation, validated by a fair imitation of my sister's signature, giving the bearer of the said letter full permission to credit the aforementioned accounts on her behalf.

Pete: But won't she mind?

Lucky: As two peas shucked together, we have often shared the same broth.

Pete: You said that there was a year between you.

Lucky: To the day. Should such annual accuracy in child birth count for nothing?

Soapy: (Pointing to item) What's this?

Lucky: (Sighing) What do you thing it is, can you not read?

Soapy: Of course I can, it's just your writing — I'm not a student of Egyptology you know.

Lucky: What is the problem, too legible for you is it? Have you never experienced calligraphy taken to its zenith before?

Pete: Don't mind him, I've got it all under control. (To Soapy) Come on let's go.

Lucky: That's the most proper suggestion you've made so far during the brief span of our acquaintance.

Pete and Soapy grab their coats and go.

Pete: (As he exits) I don't know what you want one of them for though.

Lucky checks that they have indeed left then extracts a mobile phone from her bag and proceeds to dial a number.

Lucky: Hello. Yes of course it is. Who else could it be? They've fallen for hook, line and sinker and I'm just starting the reeling in process. Everything is going according to plan. No, I don't foresee any difficulties or technical hitches.

There is a knock at the door and, before Lucky can conceal her phone Porkus enters.

Porkus: Hi Flic, back already? I told them not to worry and that you'd be back before they knew it—

Lucky: (Startled) Porkus!

Porkus: Yeah, I said that you'd just gone off in one of your sulks. Give her a couple of days to get over it and she'll be back, I said. But no, they had to make a song and dance of it. Did they believe me — they think I'm mental.

Lucky: (Having regained some composure) I am afraid that if you have come for a second opinion, my diagnosis is going to bitterly disappoint you. I am no medical expert but an identity crisis is hardly the most stable footing with which to enter into a relationship with an as yet anonymous third party.

Porkus: What are you talking about? You can't catch me out that easily, I know who I am.

Lucky: I was referring to myself.

Porkus: Flic?

Lucky: That's the whole point, I am not Felicity, I am her sister Lucrezia.

Porkus: (Grinning and nudging her playfully) Get away, I'd recognise those lips anywhere.

Lucky: It's true I tell you.

Porkus: Then how did you know who I was?

Lucky: It's a long story (Becomes irate) Look I am not Flic, do you understand? (She slaps his face)

Porkus: Ow, shit! What was that for?

Lucky grabs Porkus by the chin and stares into his eyes.

Lucky: Listen to me you maladjusted maggot. I cannot vouch for the precise delusion that you are under at the present time, but let me make one thing perfectly clear; I am not Flic, I am Lucky — very much so, what is more you never set your miserable, visionary peepers on me until a few moments ago and you will continue to believe this for the tenure of our brief acquaintance.

Porkus: Okay, okay, from now on I'm M C Shtum.

Lucky: I am glad not to hear it.

Porkus: What have I done to deserve this? I only nipped round to see Pete to find out if they had agreed to let me move in in your, er, I mean Flic's place.

Lucky: In that case you may as well leave now, for I have more than adequately filled the void to which you refer.

Porkus: I'll wait. I've always been more than welcome here in the past.

Porkus and Lucky sit in resigned silence glaring at each other. There is a pause representing a considerably longer passage of time. Pete and Soapy return carrying boxes of supplies which they place on the table. They collapse in mock exhaustion. Lucky examines the contents of the boxes.

Lucky: Did you remember the hammer?

Pete: Yes it's there on the left with the tortilla chips.

Soapy: And the nails are in that bag there (He points vaguely in the direction of the table)

Porkus: Jesus, who's getting crucified?

Lucky: I have some framed prints of St. Joan which I would like hung. Perhaps one of you martyrs to my cause would kindly do the honours?

Pete: Go on Soap, you're the biggest sucker round here, if the rumours are true that is.

Soapy sighs and gets to his feet picking up the bag of nails.

Porkus: She's really got you two on a string.

Soapy: I don't know what you're so smug about. You can give me a hand: loafing around here uninvited, chatting up the guests.

Porkus: More like part of the furniture I gather.

Soapy: (To Lucky) You obviously made him party to the good news.

Porkus: That is very much a matter of subjectivity.

Soapy: Just grab the hammer and come on.

Porkus picks up hammer and they exit towards Lucky's room.

Lucky: The pictures are by the bed; you can't miss them.

Porkus: (Weighing up hammer in his hands) Talk about overkill.

Soapy: Right I'll hold the nail, and when I nod my head . . .

Conversation fades as they enter bedroom, to be followed by the sound of someone tripping over the pictures and then that of nails being hammered into the wall.

Pete: You were right as usual.

Lucky has started rummaging through the boxes at greater length. She picks out a small jewellery box.

Lucky: Peter, where did this come from?

Pete: (Blushing, becoming embarrassed) Er, you're not meant to see that yet.

Lucky: This wasn't on the list, what the hell is it? (She opens the box)

Pete: It's just a little something I picked up for you along the way.

Lucky: Oh Peter it's beautiful, you shouldn't have. (She produces an expensive necklace from the box and fingers the chain) You are naughty, it must have cost you an arm and a leg.

Pete: I'll always be an emotional cripple in your eyes.

Lucky goes to put the necklace on. Pete stands behind her and tries to assist her.

Let me.

Lucky: (Moving away from him) It's okay I can manage.

She does.

Pete: You're more like Flic than I at first imagined. I can feel the chill from here. (He shivers)

Lucky: I am sorry to disappoint you Peter, but I am really far to busy.

Pete: I'll tell you what, on Saturday, after we've got this party business out of the way, why don't we pop down to the pool. I do it every week it's great for relaxing and working away the stresses and strains of the week.

Lucky: That's out of the question I'm afraid.

Pete: Do you really like me that little.

Lucky: Look, if I was meant to be beautiful, intelligent and able to swim I'd have been born a dolphin, alright.

Pete begins to laugh.

What do you find so funny?

Pete: Who'd have taken you for a hydrophobe. What a heel.

Lucky: I shall be frothing uncontrollably without any precipitous provocation if you don't shut up very soon.

Soapy and Porkus re-emerge. Porkus is limping.

Porkus: That trunk is a bloody hazard to ones health. I could have seriously impaired my judgement just now.

Soapy: It's a bit late for that Porky boy.

Porkus hits him playfully.

Pete: Roll on Friday.

Lucky: One thing's for certain; this will be a party that they will be talking about for a long time to come.

Curtain.


ACT TWO

Scene One

Friday. The terrible trio of Pete, Soapy and Porkus are slacking from the task of preparing for the party and attempting to play a game of three-handed bridge. Soapy and Porkus sit opposite each other around the table, Pete faces an empty chair.

Porkus: (Looking at his hand) Three clubs.

Pete: No, that's not right; I dealt, so you're supposed to sit there first. (He points to empty chair)

Soapy: (Throwing in his hand) Talk about trivial pursuit.

Porkus: Admit it — it's just another example of the futility of our collective existence.

Soapy: If there was ever a statement heavy enough to sink in the Dead Sea then that one at least qualifies for the final eliminator.

Pete: Well it's not my fault we can't find a fourth. Our notices have been up all term, and I haven't heard a whisper of interest have you? Not even from the English Department — it's as if they don't read.

Soapy: More like they can't.

Porkus: Doesn't it seem strange to you?

Soapy: Not really, they'll accept anyone these days; the sole qualification being naturalised ethnicity.

Porkus: No, I mean about Lucrezia — Lucky or whatever she chooses to call herself.

Pete: What do you mean?

Porkus: Well, think about it: she waltzes into your wretched little lives from completely out of the blue and has the two of you at her beck and call before you can say—

Pete: (Heavy sarcasm) I distinctly recall the way you failed to be drawn by her charms!

Porkus: I mean, as far as I know Flic never even had a hamster, let alone a sister.

Pete: When we're all caged in on the treadmill of life what's the point?

Soapy: As far as I'm concerned, having such a sensual sibling substitute more than makes amends for the haste of her exit.

Porkus: And that's another thing. Flic is of such a vivacious and extrovert disposition; it's always the quiet unassuming types who steal of into the night with out so much as a `by-your-leave', never to be seen again. Have you never read a sensationalist headline?

Pete: Honestly Porkus, you're so cynical.

Porkus: Cynicism is but the more worldly wise words of the less revered.

Soapy: Now we're really mucking out the cattle pens.

Pete: You're jumping to conclusions.

Porkus: Look, I don't mind admitting that I am wrong, but only when I am. I just think—

Pete: Well don't. Why don't you stop and give your obviously overtaxed grey matter some time to cool off. You're starting to sound just like my father, no, no, like his father.

Soapy: (Astonished) Mine?

Pete: No stupid, my grandfather.

Soapy: Oh.

Pete: And we're your friends. I pity your children, even as they swim there before me like so much excess baggage.

Porkus: Are you insinuating that I'm not one to exercise my masculinity? I'll have you know that when I spent the
summer hitching through the nether regions of the continent, those as yet untainted by EC bureaucracy or religious extremism, I pulled every night.

Soapy: And I'm sure that Onan was very proud of you.

Pete: If we're not going to play any more we might as well get on with these party preparations.

Soapy: Your diplomacy still leaves you far from immune here you know.

Pete picks up cards from table.

Pete: It's no skin off my nose, I was thinking of your hide actually and whether you know of a good place where you can, because you're sure going to need one if things aren't just so by the time our happy house-guest returns.

Porkus: (Looking at his watch) Yes she should be back at any moment.

Soapy: That doesn't make him right you know. Damned cheek if you want my opinion.

Pete: Well she's certainly cutting it a bit fine, I'll grant you that.

Soapy: She's just like her sister.

Porkus: You can say that again.

Pete: What's that supposed to mean?

Soapy: Just because we offered to do all the donkey work, there's no reason for her to treat us like asses.

Porkus: How do you reckon tonight will go?

Soapy: A sight better than the Rag Ball. I hope.

Pete: That was okay until Camilla started singing.

Soapy: Yes she's a real pirate of the high Cs.

Porkus: It didn't stop you from trying to chat her up all night though, did it?

Soapy: I should have saved my breath for someone really in need of labial resuscitation. All I got for my trouble was her bloody phone number.

Porkus: Well that's a start isn't it? I tried for a whole year once at primary school and didn't even get to carry their satchel.

Soapy: The thing is, her answer-phone says that this number is permanently unobtainable.

Pete: Palmed you off with that old trick did she? Only the foolish ever fall for it. And the terminally sad try ringing.

Soapy: You seem to know an awful lot about the procedure.

Porkus: I expect that he was standing there all week glued to the receiver, trying not to pay any attention to the nagging doubts of his bruised ego manifesting from the dial tone, attacking him like a demented budgie does its own reflection.

Pete: I my book `No' means no, anything else is negotiable.

Soapy: But at that price?

Pete: I only buy things I need when they are affordable. That is how I can enjoy the more pleasurable things in life.

Soapy: From now on the bill will be strictly itemised.

Pete: So share and share alike has finally bitten the dust. Stand back and let the buzzards through.

Soapy: You're so dramatic. You should be on the stage.

Porkus: Yes fair's fair Pete. You shouldn't expect other people to pay for your hang-ups.

Soapy: If he had've hung up the matter would never have reared its ugly head above the tedious dialogue that passes for social intercourse around here.

Doorbell rings.

Porkus: Break! End of round one. back to your corners.

Soapy: That's rich coming from the only dunce in the room.

Pete: (Rising to answer the door) That will be her now. Come on, squad `shun; eyes front, chest out, shoulders back.

Soapy: Don't talk soft. Why would she give up the element of surprise?

Pete: It's someone for you Soapy.

Soapy goes to the door. Pete returns to Porkus.

The number of strange men he knows, I'm beginning to have reservations.

Porkus: It'd take more than you could swallow to make his Indian summer. What makes you think you're even his type. One minute you reckon you're God's gift to women—

Pete: Oh it's just a greed thing.

Soapy returns carrying a laundry-type box, which he places at the back of the room.

Pete: So?

Soapy: What?

Pete: So what's in the box?

Soapy: A bomb.

Porkus: Come clean Soap, stop mucking us about.

Soapy: It's something that will help make tonight go off with a bang, that's for sure.

Pete: That's it then is it? Not so much as a bijou hintette towards the contents other than something of a metaphysically/existential explosive nature.

Porkus: You mean like Semtex? Isn't that dangerous?

Soapy: Only when it goes off. No it's nothing like that.

Pete: My uncle Billy was caught trying to smuggle a stomach full of Semtex filled condoms into Ireland you know. It created something of a legal dilemma at the time. The authorities didn't know whether to prosecute under the Prevention of Terrorism Act or to excommunicate him.

Soapy: You've either got a family tree with roots taking on loony juice or you've eloped with you imagination once too often.

Pete: Why don't you stop messing with matrimonial metaphors? If you reckon I've become divorced from reality, just say so.

Porkus: Perhaps he didn't want to hurt your feelings.

Soapy: That's right, I realise how you must be suffering right now, the prolonged presence of women always did cause you to feel inadequate.

Pete: I'm not unduly overwhelmed. Especially when you consider she could make God feel inadequate.

Lucky enters. She carries an old wooden box which she places down gently.

Lucky: Who's she? The cat's mother? I don't see much progress here boys.

Porkus: We can explain everything.

Soapy nudges him with his elbow.

Soapy: It's a sign of the times.

Pete: Don't keep on we're doing our best.

Soapy: You can try as hard as you like, but you're still only a man.

Pete: (To Lucky) I don't understand it. I thought we were getting along fine?

Lucky: Let's just say that it was good while it lasted.

Pete: But it never even began.

Soapy: Such a shame. And who knows, it could have been the start of something minuscule.

Pete: You're so fickle.

Lucky: I hope that you're not denying me my prerogative. At least you have got your memories.

Porkus: I wouldn't be too sure.

Soapy: (Singing The Smiths' "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now")`I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour..'

Pete: At least I'm not as bad as you. You drank to forget and forgot to stop.

Lucky: Kindly desist from this peculiar slant on male bonding. Your tales of alcoholic prowess can be put on the back boiler until both they and hopefully you are dry. Stardate — here and now: there is business afoot. Not that busy-ness is a mode of operation with which you three gay caballeros are au fait.

Pete: No doubt you'll be pitching in to alleviate this predicament of tardiness in which we appear to have unwittingly embroiled ourselves.

Lucky: Me? Oh gracious no. Why should I bark? I have a pressing engagement.

Exit Lucky to her room.

Soapy: What is she up to this time I wonder?

Porkus: I gather she has gone to do some ironing.

Pete: She's probably in there icing the cake of some nefarious scheme or other. (Mimes using walkie-talkie) This is White Rabbit to Mad Hatter, come in. That's a green light on the tea-party and Alice is on her way.

Porkus: One thing's for sure, it won't be half baked.

Pete, Porkus and Soapy perform the general party preparation duties which they should have done earlier.

Pete: So Soapy, you're the one set to spearhead the great Smiths revival are you, With you're oh so obvious intricate knowledge of the subject?

Porkus: I didn't realise the Labour party was that desperate.

Pete: I was talking music actually.

Porkus: So was I.

Pete: Mind you — ligging with a few celebs and appearing in the odd video could do his image the power of good.

Porkus: But Stephen's already famous.

Pete: I was referring to Ms. Beckett's head honcho. And I'm not waiting for Godot!

Soapy: Oh yes. It really pulled the votes in for Kinnock.

Pete: It did Clinton no harm though — blowing the occasional sax.

Soapy: Yeah, but he didn't inhale though.

Porkus: Must have made it really difficult to hit the high notes.

Lucky emerges from her room with a flourish, dressed as Theda Bara, the archetypal screen vamp.

Pete: What's with the get up?

Lucky: Behaving yourselves boys? I thought that you'd be trying on your costumes?

Pete: Costumes?

Lucky: Didn't Soapy mention that it's fancy dress tonight. The theme's the golden age of Hollywood by the way.

Porkus: I hope you don't expect me to keep silent for an entire evening?

Lucky: The volleyball team have promised to come as the Keystone Cops.

Pete: So Soapy, you've finally taken your self-styled sultan of slack scenario too far.

Soapy: Don't fret, I've got everything under control. I've got our costumes here.

Soapy goes to the laundry-type box and takes lid off Pete peeks inside.

Pete: I can't wear that, think of my reputation.

Lucky: You could always cultivate another one — that of a damp squib.

Soapy: (Producing what appears to be a large ear trumpet and holding it to his ear) Could you speak up a bit please?

Pete, Soapy and Porkus go to change. Lucky takes the trumpet from Soapy: it and the old box are revealed as components of an old wind-up gramophone Lucky produces some old thirties movie posters which she places up on the walls. Lights fade.


Scene Two

Evening. Lights are low giving a black and white feel. Numerous guests have arrived, The party is in full swing with everyone in appropriate fancy dress. Pete and Soapy as Laurel and Hardy, Porkus as Frankenstein's monster. Appropriate music plays softly in the background. Pete is standing at the door, hands behind his back, greeting guests as they enter, he appears dressed as a doorman.. He sports a false moustache. Adnan enter as Valentino's Sheik.

Pete: Oh very original Adnan. I didn't know that it was national costume night.

Adnan: (Exaggerated posh voice) Oh this is all the rage on the playing fields of Eton dear boy.

Pete: As you can see, the sheep are all gathered but kindly restrain yourself from imbibing their eyeballs.

Adnan goes and mingles. A couple enter dressed as a distinctly undersized King Kong and Fay Wray (technically this should be Ann Darrow of course, but who remembers the character's name?). They hand Pete a card.

Pete: (Reads card) Straight from his whistle-stop tour of the Empire State, all the way from Skull Island it's King Kong and his delectable date for the evening, dressed to peel; Fay Wray.

Fay: Charming intro Peter. We almost relived our triumph of the Rag Ball, but King of the Apes here—

At this point Ricko enters dressed as Tarzan and gives a snort of derision at the statement.

decided tonight was not the appropriate for the second coming of Lady and Lady Alicia Rhiannon Sex-Pervert. (To gorilla) Did you darling?

She chucks the gorilla under the chin and hands it a banana. The beast goes ape! picking her up and entering the throng with various grunts, Fay screams.

Porkus: Pete, over here, you're missing all the fun, dappy Damon is doing his party-piece with the peanuts and I told him that you could do it better.

Pete: Have you got a screw loose, I never said anything of the sort, besides can't you see that I'm busy greeting the gathering?

Soapy approaches Pete dressed as Stan Laurel. As another guest enters he tugs on Pete's arm.

Soapy: It's alright, I'll take over for a while. Come on get your hat on.

Pete produces a bowler hat from behind his back and puts it on. He is obviously Oliver Hardy.

Pete: Well that's another fine mess you've got me into Soapy.

More guests enter, including Tamsin who is dressed as Greta Garbo.

Soapy: (To guests) Come right in, the cabaret is about to start.

The guests crowd round Pete and Damon, they attempt to perform various peanut pranks, e.g. throwing them in the air and catching them in their mouths, each other's mouths, blowing them out of their noses, etc. Soapy watches from the door. Lucky, disinterested and at the back of the crowd, is engaged in conversation with Fay Wray.

Lucky: Yes it was one of those dingy, horrible places, you know the sort: communal toilet akin to an H-Block cell. Come in late trying not to wake up the whole neighbourhood, and you trip headfirst over a mountain of unopened communiqués from the television licensing centre.

Fay: My fullest sympathy goes out to you.

Lucky: Oh save it for the devil, I was there by choice researching for my thesis on poverty: Anyway in the morning, you'd tip-toe bleary-eyed downstairs and accidentally weigh yourself due to the curious proximity of the bathroom scales — their secretion at the foot of the stairs ever remained a mystery to me. That's just what a budding anorexic with a hangover needs first thing in the morning, I can tell you.

Fay: Well I'd never consider sharing with men that's for sure. I don't know how your sister put up with them for so long.

Lucky: Perhaps if they were men there might be some cause for concern.

Peanut pranks over, the crowd disperses and the guests start to dance and converse. Lucky's conversation fades and that of Pete and Ricko is overheard

Ricko: A fine show of bravado Peter. Shame about the—

Pete: Don't worry, I'll see the quack first thing in the afternoon.

Ricko: I see Tammy's getting a bit thick with Flic's flesh and blood.

Pete: That's positively macabre. Why ever didn't you come as Lugosi instead of adhering as closely as possible to your ridiculous surfer chic pose?

Ricko: Yeah, I could have taken over your job. (as Lugosi's Count) ``I bid you welcome.'' And for my party piece I could have turned into a bloody bat!

Pete: So how are you getting along with Tamsin these days Ricko?

Ricko: Terrible; all the stories I had heard, well they proved to be true. She moved in and had slept with them all within the first term and two of them were women.

Pete: Sounds to me like a right eager beaver.

Ricko: Don't you believe it. She's become so straight-laced since I met her. It's ridiculous. The only thing she ever does doggie-fashion these days is swim and that's only out of necessity. Until I met her I thought that celibacy was the name of a Welsh songstress. If she holds out much longer I'll become an honorary virgin.

Pete: C'est la vie, it goes to show you never can tell.

Ricko: Well I'm telling you . I'd never get married. Not in a million years.

Pete: To tell the truth I'm a bit disappointed with her myself. I mean, her attire is hardly up to its usual impeccable standard.

Ricko: She thought that she would dress down for a change, something to do with the pull of Uranus I gather.

Pete: Is there no end to scurrilous campus gossip? Well it's just not on, we can't have everyone enjoying themselves bar her.

Ricko: I'm sure that she's laughing on the inside. (Pause) I think!

Soapy: It had to happen sooner or later. The last time I saw that much make-up on a single visage was in a big-top when I was ten.

Pete: Slapstick being no substitute for slap`n'tickle though Rick?

Ricko: Vouchsafe young Peter.

Pete: Easier said than done my friend. There's so much to be uptight about in days like these.

Soapy: Too much Dr. Ruth and not enough Madame Ruth I say.

Ricko: Catching your drift Soap.

Pete: Well you've lost me.

Soapy: Then act upon it like it was the World's stage. Get the old procreative juices flowing. If you wait for him (Intimates Pete) to come up with a solution, you'll be blowing dust.

Porkus: (Butting in) Of course my ideal flatmate would have to be a lesbian chef.

Ricko: Why?

Porkus: I'm so inept where culinary skills are called for that I even burn water. And I would relish the prospect of pursuing someone who proved harder to catch than clap from a cubicle.

Ricko: You're weird.

Pete: Not really. It's all quite logical to me. These elaborate charades of his all stem from his not knowing what to do with a willing woman

Ricko: Gleaned too much of his evidently sparse knowledge of the ways of the world from dodgy videos.

Porkus: I'm not ashamed of it. Why I've seen them all; `Emannuelle', `Curious Yellow', `Lolita'—

Pete: Danish Blue?

Porkus: Cor, not half!

Pete: That's a cheese, sad boy.

Lucky walks past and goes to talk to Adnan.

Ricko: Now there goes another one with a veritable host of cadavers in her closet.

Pete: What do you mean? Oh I see posh boy has found himself a posh toy.

Their conversation fades and that of Lucky and Adnan is picked up.

Adnan: So tell me then, Lucrezia, what became of that sister of yours? She left without even saying goodbye, it was most peculiar.

Lucky: You should be careful what you say. Don't you know that careless talk costs lives?

Adnan: Who wants to live forever?

Their conversation fades and that of Soapy and Tamsin is heard.

Soapy: I told them, ``If that's the price I must pay for not being a slug-witted dullard in some poxy, dead-end nine-to-five job, coming home every night to the mortgage and the darling wife and whatever fraction of a family is the norm these days, them so be it!''

Tamsin: Why don't you stop beating about the bush. All this conversation is leading up to is your euphemistic attempt to say what amounts to no more than ``Let's get butt naked and fuck''.

Soapy: So how about it?

Tamsin: No chance. I've recently decided to reserve myself for the clutches of wedlock. If only Ricko would be more understanding of tradition.

Soapy: So you'd seriously consider getting married? How tragically modern.

Tamsin: Why not, just so long as all the guests were to come dressed as circus performers. I quite enjoy all this dressing-up.

Soapy: Well if I were you in those circumstances, I would consider Dumbo the most appropriate characterisation.

Tamsin: Perhaps not. On second thoughts it would only highlight the fact that there are too many clowns and not enough strongmen in the world.

Conversation drifts back to Lucky and Adnan

Lucky: Tell me more about your alleged relations with the good ship Felicity.

Adnan: It's all true. I have nothing to hide or to be ashamed of. She liked the spice of romantic attrition in her life. But I fear that my sense or moral integrity and devotion to fair play somewhat overwhelmed her: I was always prepared to give more than she could accept and live with herself afterwards. I thought mornings were a time set aside for grim reflection.

Lucky: She said all this?

Adnan: Not a dickie-bird, to use the avine vernacular. She didn't have to, though that provides no excuse for her prolonged silence. It was a very sad state of affairs.

Lucky: You could have made it easy for her.

Adnan: I assumed she would relish the challenge. Perhaps I misjudged her?

Lucky: And what about you, do you still seek to increase the harem of your conquests?

Adnan: I cannot dwell in the past. Hindsight proves to be so myopic in the greater scheme of things.

Lucky: Then kiss me, my fool.

Lucky grabs Adnan and they embrace passionately.

Adnan: (Breaking away) Let's take a walk.

Lucky: But it's raining outside, my make-up will run, it has taken me all my life to perfect this image.

Adnan looks disappointed.

We could always go to my room, unless of course all you really want is some fresh air?

Adnan: No, that would be perfectly acceptable, besides, I too have appearances to keep up.

Lucky takes Adnan's hand and leads him towards her boudoir. This goes unnoticed by everyone except Porkus, who watches them blend in with the crowd. He goes to investigate, but before he can penetrate the throng Lucky reappears minus her necklace. (In fact she is really Flic, identically attired). His mission thwarted, Porkus stands there despondently inanimate, contemplating his next move.

Flic: Why you look completely lost Porkus, and in a room you treat as your own too. What's the matter? Have you seen a ghost or something?

Porkus: Not this time.

Flic wanders off mingling. Soapy and Tamsin are overheard.

Soapy: My next flexing could well be in that (Gesturing towards Flic) direction.

Tamsin: You'll never get anywhere with her. She strikes me as a career woman.

Soapy: Fulcanelli! With her knack of transmuting base instincts into full-blown animal passion a career in prostitution would prove most profitable for her.

Tamsin: In which case you could not afford her.

By now Flic is sauntering in the vicinity of Pete and Ricko.

Pete: (To Ricko) Watch this, I'll put her in her place. (To Flic) Lucky come here and meet Ricko. He's studying modern culture you know.

Ricko: Yes I'm reading rock stars' tattoos.

They laugh. As Lucky approaches, Pete squirts Flic with a soda siphon. They laugh. even more.

Flic: I suppose you find that mildly amusing. (She stomps off)

Pete: The lying bitch!

Soapy, seeing these events goes after Flic.

Tamsin: Leave her she just wants to be alone. And I should know.

Soapy instead goes over to Pete and Ricko.

Soapy: What was all that in aid of?

Pete: Oh, nothing unexpected, just the usual female deceit; but who'd have thought it of her?

Soapy: Been giving you the brush off as well has she?

Pete: The passing of time's certainly proving her not to be the original sinner — that's for sure.

Ricko: Don't dwell on it lads, it's a great party. It may have her name on it but I can tell at a glance whose finely honed party animal minds were the brains of the organisation.

Pete: I'll try and ignore the unfortunate taint of irony in your voice and accept that as the complement you no doubt intended.

Soapy: (Surveying the throng) Where's Adnan gone?

Porkus: He was here a moment ago—

Pete: Perhaps he's changing into the invisible man.

There is a banging on the door and frantic ringing of bell.

Porkus: Eh up! Trouble at t'mill.

Shouts of ``Open up, it's the police!' can be heard off stage.

Soapy: Oh great, the rozers. That's all we need.

There is mild panic. Someone goes to open door before it is broken down. In burst half-a-dozen Keystone Cops who proceed to blow their whistles and assault everyone with their truncheons. More raucous music plays loudly. Pete and Soapy avoiding assault, stand there laughing. Porkus casually strolls up and gets them both squarely in the face with custard pies. Curtain.


ACT THREE

Scene One

Pete and Soapy are attempting to tidy up after the night before.

Pete: (Opening door to air the room) Well that's as maybe, but it certainly is not mine, you know I like to live on the edge.

Porkus: (From kitchen) Just make sure you don't fall in.

Pete: That's what planks are for aren't they?

Soapy: All I'm saying is how did this (Holds up condom — used) come to get sucked up the pipe.

Pete: That sounds like one hell of a job you've been doing there.

Soapy: Well it's all blocked up now. How am I supposed to finish the hoovering?

Pete: I hope that you're not using brand names as generic terms, it'll only land you in court again.

Soapy: I can't help being influenced by the power of advertising.

Pete: It must reassure advertising agencies no end to know that the hours spent toiling in the construction of their campaigns are not wasted. Though I'm sure any subliminal leanings would be more than a tad too subtle for the likes of you.

Pete: (Taking a sniff) Hold on a moment. (Taking condom from Soapy and sniffing it) Just as I thought, my keen sense of aromatic justice once again prevails.

Soapy: What do you mean?

Pete: It provides me with conclusive proof that the offending item has no connection with myself whatsoever.

Soapy: How?

Pete: Simple. That is raspberry flavour—

Soapy: And?

Pete: My mates's Marmite.

Pause.

Soapy: Are you going home for Christmas?

Pete: I try not to think that far ahead.

Soapy: But it's only five weeks away.

Pete: Look Christmas sucks, okay.

Soapy: Then it's the only thing that does round here at the moment. Your starting to sound more like Scrooge every day.

Pete: At least he was honest. You can't open a paper or sit in front of your TV for an evening without being subjected to endless diatribes on the less fortunate; their misery subtitled for the hard of feeling. Anyone would think that we're unaware.

Soapy: We're talking donkey's then?

Pete: (Becoming righteous) Christmas has traditionally become the time of the year when those who have to struggle for a full twelve months are patronised by the guilt pangs of the more fortunate. Let us spare a thought, brothers and sisters, for these poor souls who are bereft of compassion for the rest of the year. I'm thinking of writing a thesis of the Yuletide experience, I'm going to call it `What a turkey, or how I opened my eyes and learnt to loathe Christmas'. With apologies to Stanley Kubrick of course.

Soapy: I've seen all his films you know: `2001', `Full Metal Jacket'—

Pete: A chocolate orange—

Soapy: Of course.

Pete: That's confectionery, you nonce.

Soapy: Whatever. The spirit of Christmas is alright with me, as long as it's at least forty per cent by volume.

Pete: I just makes me so angry. If people just got together and were strong and made their point known, all suffering in the world would be ended at a stroke.

Soapy: Idealism achieves nothing but ridicule, I thought that you of all people would have known that. Besides not everyone knows how to protest, take Porkus for instance — his Coal Not Dole slogan was `Britain is the pits'!

Pete: My cousin certainly did. She got killed crossing the road.

Soapy: Why couldn't she use a pedestrian crossing like everyone else?

Pete: Because, Mr Jaywalker incarnate, she was making a protest against the arms race.

Soapy: It's so simple. (Japanese accent) You just walkee upee to the button and plessee. No ploblem. You've pressed one, you've pressed them all.

Pete: Well she was held in great esteem for her actions. The local branch of `women of dubious sexual tendencies against Armageddon' held a full minute's silence in her honour.

Soapy: I didn't think women could keep quiet for that long.

Pete: Oh yes, not even a solitary battery powered hum broke the tranquillity.

Soapy: Do you suppose they will have a minute's silence for me at the Sendero Bar when my time comes?

Pete: It will be a sight longer than that. You're their only patron as it is. Honestly you're more misguided than an Iraq bound scud.

Soapy: Its popularity has waned of late I'll admit. Actually I hear there is a motion to change its name in the offing.

Pete: And not before time. Perhaps they will call it something a touch more moderate this time the `Khamir Rouge Cocktail Lounge' or `Hitler's'. Though you'll frequent any place the beer's as cheap as the life of a campesino.

Soapy: It's funny how they say that you always remember what you were doing when the really famous die. You know: J.F.K.—

Pete: Baghdad!

Soapy: Elvis, Bobby Moore—

Pete: Mooro shuffled off this mortal coil at six-thirty in the morning. Now I don't know about you but I was in bed asleep.

Soapy: It would have made no difference had it been a post-meridian occurrence. You have no sense of tribute. Besides which you only associate claret and blue with cheese and wine parties.

Pete: Though my sense of timing is perfect.

Pete holds out his hand expectantly. Porkus emerges from the kitchen bearing cups of tea.

Porkus: Tea up lads.

Pete: Who says he's good for nothing?

Soapy: (Taking a cup) Great! I am in dire need of something with rehydrating properties; I look and feel like a zombie and it's past Halloween. (He takes a sip and spits it out) Groah! The bloody bag must have split.

Pete: (Philosophical) Oh well, nothing lasts for ever.

Soapy: I can't drink this. (He starts to rummage around) Is there no beer left?

Pete: No. It's amazing, we appeared to have drunk it all last night.

Soapy: A-ha! What's this? (He produces a bottle from a bag on the floor) None left eh! (He attempts to open the bottle)

Porkus: (Snatching bottle from Soapy and placing it out of his reach) Give that here. That's my special cider bottle. The one that caused me to have revelations.

Soapy: Yeah?

Pete: Haven't you heard the story?

Porkus: I was dealt a cranial blow by it at Reading '88.

Soapy: I did the festies as well you know. You sure it wasn't the acid?

Pete: You're a fine one to talk; you swore there was a camel in my tent.

Soapy: There were definitely humps in your sleeping bag.

Porkus: At least that determines what sort of camel it was.

Pete: Yes, an imaginary one. Look what sort of conversation has this deteriorated into anyway?

Soapy: (Posh) The stereotypical morning after, all lads together, social chit-chat, I quite thought.

Pete: (Also posh) Oh I say, lets all dredge up each others unsavoury past.

Porkus: Old Adders didn't stay long last night.

Pete: I can't say that I noticed.

Porkus: He disappeared halfway through the evening, probably still cut up over Flic.

Pete: I was led to believe that it was the other way round.

Soapy: He looked over her to me; he was all over Lucky.

Pete: Still bitter over Flic? She really had no one but herself to blame. She should have stuck to Monday's children.

Soapy: That's most unlike you to be running her down.

Porkus: Perhaps he's found someone else too?

Pete: Not at all. I'm just surprised she didn't see it coming, I mean talk about blatant — and they all did to my knowledge. He's so mercenary that if he'd have known what was so special about her he'd have slit a vein and bottled it.

Porkus: She should have stood up to him. She always struck me as being made of sterner stuff than the case has so far proved.

Pete: She always chose to hide behind the veil of femininity.

Porkus: Being a woman is no excuse for not having balls.

Soapy: Whatever. He'll be cut up alright if he's not careful.

While this conversation has been taking place, Flic, disguised as her mother has strolled through the open door and into the room unnoticed

Mother: That's not the sort of talk one should make in front of witnesses, however small it may be.

Porkus: Quite right — I always reserve such errant behaviour for the bedroom mirror.

Pete: Don't worry, his threats are as idle as the rest of him.

Soapy: Anyway who the—

Mother: I hope you don't mind my intrusion, but the door was open.

Pete: We're trying to air the place — had a bit of a bash last night don't you know.

Mother: (Surveying the scene) Well someone certainly did. Is...er Lucky in residence?

Soapy: No — she must have known there would be work to do.

Pete: Was she expecting you?

Mother: No, but I was once her.

Blank faces all round.

I'm her mother you see.

Porkus: I thought that you had passed on? Flic always maintained that the bulk of her inheritance came from your will.

Mother: No, no, she must have been referring to my late ex-husband; her, er, their father. When he died he left all his money to them. We never did see eye to eye.

Pete: I'm certainly glad that you did for at least a brief encounter. Lucky's been a godsend to us.

Soapy: I don't know about that but she certainly got us out of a hole.

Pete: Being an atheist is no excuse for comparing one of such rare beauty to a rope ladder.

Porkus: Rare? Round here there seems to be no end of them.

Pete: Keep out of this Porkus. This is developing into a private argument.

Soapy: You were lucky. For a while there I was considering going as well, what with you harping on about it every minute of the day.

Pete: What are you talking about? You never mentioned it at the time. I'm never one to moan.

Soapy: In fact I only stayed because I didn't want to hurt your feelings.

Pete: At least someone round here shows some compassion once in a while. But don't mind me — I could stand it here alone.

Soapy: Yes, and rabid dogs don't foam. You'd be down the boozer every night crying into your pint.

Pete: A change of scenery can works wonders. And it's got to be better than staying in and chatting up the Samaritans.

Mother: Do you mind if I interrupt this little malicious tête-à-tête, only I haven't got all day. We're not all students you know.

Soapy: I'm here to collect some things that I understand Felicity left behind. I believe there is a trunk in her room that I have been instructed to send on to her.

Pete: You'll never move it on your own.

Mother: In which case perhaps you would kindly consider giving me some assistance, young man.

Pete: It would be a pleasure Mrs, er, McNaughton—

Mother: I'm Snyde. My husband provided the kilted quarter of our little clan. The girls are first generation double-barrels.

Soapy: That would explain us being the cannon-fodder in their ongoing battle of the sexes.

Pete: Pay no attention to him. He's just being sarcastic.

Soapy: Sarcasm is tone of voice, not statement of fact.

Pete: (Shaking his head) As I was saying: `Of course we are willing to give you a hand. Aren't we, you two?'

Porkus
&: (In hesitant agreement) Yes.
Soapy

Pete: There you are then, you know where it is, so get cracking.

Porkus: How come we always get lumbered with the hard graft around here?

Pete: It's all very sad. Innocence over ignorance would have proved barely surfeit.

Mother: That's typical of the youth of today: so much education and yet too stupid to exploit it.

Soapy: Do you mind? I'll have you know that I'm not a complete failure. I've realised my ambition in life.

Pete: How come?

Soapy: When I left school there was nothing that I particularly wanted to be, and that's exactly what I am now — nothing.

Pete: I would be inclined to call it living within your means.

Soapy: My talent knows no bounds but my enthusiasm is somewhat more selective. However, should I ever choose to excel, I think the performing arts would be the established beckoning sphere.

Pete: How apt: Covent Garden — the home of the vegetable. I can just see them flocking there now.

Soapy: A successful street artist should always be able to draw a crowd.

Porkus: I see that your not entirely ignorant of business acumen.

Soapy: Don't ruin my credibility now, I'm on a roll.

Porkus: The less practical the skill, the more people are prepared to pay for it.

Pete: I'm sure there is a paradox somewhere in the midst of all this energy you've just expended in professing your laziness.

Soapy: You'll never get anywhere. You're too leery.

Pete: I can't help that, I was a neglected child. My parents used to plonk me down in front of some well dodgy sitcom or other. I tell you, growing up in the seventies was no joke.

Soapy:Well that's it then, there's no cure for comedy.

Porkus, Soapy and Mother go into Lucky's room. While the others are absent, Pete opens Porkus' cider bottle and takes a sniff and recoils. Porkus and Soapy struggle out of Lucky's room with a trunk. Mother follows behind, supervising the delicate operation.

Mother: Careful now. You know how much Felicity would hate for anything of hers to be damaged.

Soapy: (Struggling) Phew! this is thirsty work. (Seeing Pete with the bottle he holds out his hand) Let's have some.

Taking the bottle, Soapy takes a large swig. He spits it out and gags, dropping the trunk in the process. Mother looks on, horrified. She inspects the trunk for any signs of damage.

Pete: (To Porkus) Are you some sort of closet diabetic? How long has your health been in such a poor state as to necessitate the permanent transportation of your own personalised specimen bottle?

Porkus: It always tastes okay to me.

Pete: Did your mother have a passion for single-celled organisms, because she certainly appears to have suffered molestation by something of a distinctly protozoan nature at the moment of your conception?

Porkus: There you go again; casting aspersions upon my repute. Well I've got news for you. (Pointing) This is my arse, and this is my elbow.

Pete: Your co-ordination of basic bodily functions is superb, though your command of osteological terminology is nothing short of epithetic.

Soapy: Face facts pork-boy. You're more off the wall than free floating fly shit.

Mother: Can you please keep this operation on the move. I have a taxi waiting.

Pete: I didn't know you were that rich.

Soapy and Porkus resume their duties and exit with the trunk.

Porkus: (Off stage) I'm afraid Flic's Christmas hamper has been soiled, the cranberry sauce is leaking.

Pete: (Stage front) You don't have to be mad to live here but, bock, bock... (He struts off stage doing a fair impression of a demented chicken)

Fade.


Scene Two

Night. Porkus enters flustered. A dog can be heard barking fiercely outside

Porkus: I wouldn't go out there just yet if I were you. There's a mad dog on the loose.

Soapy: It's your own fault Porkus. You shouldn't have bitten it in the first place, you rabid cur.

Porkus: It's not funny. It nearly had my leg.

Pete: But luckily it sank its fangs into you instead.

Pete and Soapy laugh.

Porkus: I'm glad someone finds my misfortune a source of amusement.

Pete: Well honestly! You don't half over react sometimes. Face the facts — the canine species are a pretty stupid bunch who act solely on their basic instinct for guidance—

Soapy: And he should know, he's known a few old dogs in his time. Talk about `man's best friend'.

Pete: People are far more intelligent, resourceful and quite frankly, deranged — I mean you should know. And look how many of them are roaming free.

Soapy: I've been developing my own `Terminator theory'.

Porkus: Another disparaging diatribe against your elders and betters no doubt.

Pete: That's ninety per cent of the population.

Soapy: No, it ties in with what you were just saying, actually

Peter: A person runs amok, spouting off about impending doom, time-travelling androids and the like and they are perceived as a nutter by their peers.

Pete: Quite right too.

Porkus: Is that it?

Soapy: If the pair of you would kindly shut your faces for a further few minutes I will endeavour to bring my point of view to its conclusion. Now where was I?

Pete: Somewhere between rampant robots and `beam me up Scottie'.

Soapy: Right. But in actual fact they are telling the truth. However. By confronting and ultimately destroying these futuristic foes and the technology that will create them, an alternative future occurs, where all the aforementioned ills are averted, which means none of their predictions come true and they spent the rest of their days trussed up like a chicken, bouncing round some rubber room as cattle-prod fodder.

Pete: So what does all this prove, in your mind at least.

Soapy: Simple, that the more extreme and on the face of it outrageous a person's actions, the saner they are.

Porkus: Heavy!

Pete: Coming from such a lightweight that's a pretty knockout paradox.

Porkus: What does boxing have to do with Dr Martens?

Pete: You wouldn't even get a licence — braindead!

Soapy: Or maybe he would (Singing "The Star Spangled Banner") In the home of the brave and the land of the free.

Porkus: What are you hankering at?

Soapy: It's the most basic competitive instinct, isn't it. You can run but you can't hide. (He shadowboxes)

Lucky enters unseen by Soapy.

Soapy: (Radically changing the subject) Anyway, enough of sci-fi sorcery and paeans to pugilism. I heard a good joke last night. What do you call a cross between a fiddle, a crocodile and a rapist? A violator.

Lucky: I'm afraid that the wit of the philosophy department fair sails over my head.

Pete: It doesn't even encroach upon the airspace of his metaphoric mental stratosphere. He's just a parrot.

Lucky: Perhaps you should consider restricting his diet, he's obviously crackers enough.

Porkus: You've just missed your mother.

Lucky: Nonsense, I never miss her.

Soapy: I had a close call the other day. I passed someone who looked suspiciously like my mother in the street. Luckily she didn't recognise me.

Porkus: That couldn't happen to me, the smell would give her away.

Soapy: So that's where you inherited your sense of hygiene from.

Porkus: No she died five years ago.

Lucky: (Motioning to leave again) I've obviously chosen to return at a low ebb in your collective humour biorhythm.

Pete: Where are you going?

Lucky: To my room to study. It's people like you who give education a bad name. A mature student is not just one who can hold down six pints of brown ale.

Soapy: It's not my fault. I've a reputation to live up to.

Lucky: Some people will instinctively go too far to prove a point.

Pete: He believes in the power of mirth as an increaser of popularity.

Lucky: A laugh a minute for the rest of your lives could not elevate you to the standing from whence you plummeted during that last little patter. Honestly, I've known of some paeans to dubious belief but you've got the oak leaf and cluster.

Porkus: Come on there was no harm done, it was only a bit of fun. Let's kiss and make up before bedtime.

Porkus tries to embrace Lucky.

Lucky: Ugh! What's that on your teeth?

Porkus runs a finger over his front teeth and examines the findings. Lucky takes a step back.

Porkus: Oh that's nothing to worry about, it's just a little commemorative plaque.

Lucky: It may only be a memorial to your lunch as far as you are concerned, but keep it well away from me.

Lucky exits to her room.

Soapy: Don't be too harsh, he's been addicted ever since his little pizza delivery stint. The franchise thought they were on to a good thing: twelve-hour shifts, clocking off when it's not busy, you know the thing. Trouble was they offered as much to eat free as you liked.

Pete: To the wall in weeks.

Porkus: To be fair — an empty stomach has no conscience.

Ricko and Tamsin enter arm in arm.

Ricko: We thought that you should be the first to know. I proposed to Tamsin last night and she accepted.

Soapy: Now there's a dramatic turn around. Has the iceberg of last night melted.

Tamsin: What do you mean, you great wet lettuce?

Pete: I would imaging a titanic collision of views was more in order.

Ricko: Tamsin has convinced me that sex is nothing but the last gasp communion of the intellectually inferior.

Unconvinced looks all round.

Tamsin: Soapy, when was the last time you invited someone back for good think?

Soapy: What?

Tamsin: And so it went. (Pause) Where's little Miss Lucky?

Soapy: She's in her room swotting.

Ricko: Why doesn't she buy fly-spray like everyone else.

Porkus: What do you two make of her?

Soapy: It's funny you should ask that.

Porkus: You see, I've been thinking and there's definitely something going on that I'm not getting.

Tamsin: I hear that's the story of your life.

Porkus: I can't quite put my finger on it but I'll sniff her out you see if I don't.

Pete: Give it a rest truffler, you are displaying all the subtlety of a bloodthirsty mob baying for justice, with none of the irony.

Porkus: Emotion leaves no room for irony.

Pete: Yes I can well imagine the heart ruling over your empty head.

Soapy: There's something about her that makes me feel inadequate.

Pete: Whose side are you on? Besides she could make God feel inadequate.

Porkus: Having Him not knowing what deity it is I suppose.

Ricko: We're going clubbing by way of celebration, are you lot with us or what?

Pete: No way I'm going to retire — I'm practically done in.

Soapy: Me too. I've got some sweet dreams due to me.

Porkus: Make that three strikes, I'm outta here also. You can walk me home though my acting like a bitch on heat seems to have backfired.

Ricko, Tamsin and Porkus exit, Pete and Soapy walk towards their respective rooms.

Pete: Let's hope Porkus will have got all that bullshit about Lucky being hell-spawn with attitude out of his system by the morning.

Soapy: Right, I hope we've heard the last of it.

Pete: I'm sure he's the reason she turned in early tonight.

Soapy: You should have told him to go.

Pete: I thought that he was our friend.

Soapy: I thought that he was your friend.

Pete: There's no need to fall out with everybody. Not at the same time anyway.

Soapy: How right you are. From tomorrow we're turning over a new leaf.

Pete: You leave me out of your self-improvement pledge.

Pete goes into his room and shuts the door.

Soapy: Goodnight to you too, Mr Perfect.

Soapy goes into his room and shuts the door. There is a long pause. Lucky tiptoes towards the door carrying her travel bag. Just as she turns the latch, the light is turned on by Porkus, who has entered unseen. He strolls across the room towards her.

Porkus: Not so lucky now are you Lucrecia, or should I say Felicity? There'll be no getting off at Vauxhall for you this time.

Lucky: I don't know what you are talking about, and neither do you by the sound of it. Go and practice your cerebral somnambulism elsewhere.

Porkus: You can't pull the wool any further over my eyes. If nature has played a cruel trick on me, then it only goes to show what a sick mind you must have, because I've been on your wavelength from the start. You always were fastidious with your elaboration, but the sheer gall and audacity of this intricate little caper would tax sleuthing skills of several Sherlock Holmes, if not the whole of Baker Street. Who would have thought of you purporting to be your own dear, sweet baby sister just to extinguish an old flame on the pretext of jealousy — as if any real emotion were not totally alien to you, and pack him off in that old trunk to the outer reaches of the globe. And as if one pretence were not enough, you take it upon yourself to mimic your entire family just for good measure, no doubt—

The door is pushed open and Flic enters. She and Lucky are dressed alike, apart from the necklace Lucky wears. To all intents and purposes they could be identical twins

Flic: Now that is an exaggeration; there was only the one instance and I was responsible for that.

Porkus becomes confused and agitated. Flic and Lucky walk towards him menacingly.

Lucky: Care to retract any of your previous outburst Porkus.

Flic: It was a rather spiteful little diatribe Porkus.

Porkus stares from one to the other in disbelief whilst walking backwards. He eventually bumps into the table.

Porkus: Flic? . . . Lucky?

Flic: Are you sure Porkus? You haven't been at all well recently, have you?

Porkus: I. (Sinking to his knees) I—

Lucky: Everyone knows that you were infatuated with Felicity—

Flic: And when that no good Arabian parasite broke my poor heart and drove me away—

Lucky: The obsession simply boiled over and you thought that you'd send her a little present—

Flic: To show that your love was the only one pure and true and that nothing could stand in its way—

Lucky: When the next best thing came along—

Flic: And was driven away the amorous advances of that pair of arrogant ignoramuses—

Lucky: They simply had to go as well, didn't they?—

Flic: Oh absolutely.

Lucky pick up the hammer from the table and hands it to Porkus.

Lucky: So you know what you have to do don't you?

Porkus nods feebly, completely under their spell and trembling, he inches off towards the bedroom. Flic and Lucky walk towards the door. Lucky pulls off the necklace that Pete gave her and throws it onto the floor. She picks up her bag and Flic turns off the light. They leave and close the door behind them. Curtain.


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This page © Kevin Mitchell, 1998.