MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

Before John can reply, the door to the hallway opens and ROGER strides in. Roger is a small cockney with a big voice.

ROGER:        You cant, John!  You facking cant!  Where’s the Priestley

                        cheque?

JOHN:            What…what’s up. Roger?

ROGER:        What’s facking up?  Your number’s up, that’s what. I’ll tell you

                        where the Priestley cheque is. In the bank, that’s where. Belly up.

                        And ten grand of my money is winging it’s way to Gran Canaria,

                         (Sees Madeleine for the first time)

                        Sexy.  You putting on or taking off?

JOHN:            Well, I guess he’ll have cashed it by now.

MAD:              How did you?….the door was…

ROGER:        (hands her a key)  Fifty percent of burglars let themselves in.

                        (looks her over)  I know those legs.

MAD:              Well…I’ve had them all my life.

ROGER:        (wagging his finger)  Nah, nah…They’re familiar.  I’m

                        not much good at faces but I never forget a leg…

                        (turns to John)  ‘Course he’s cashed it you cretin. But he

                        wasn’t supposed to, was he?  Put it on hold till I get back,

                        I said.  And what do I find?  Facking cashed…

JOHN:            I don’t recall…

ROGER:        You don’t recall. (he goes to the phone and picks up the

                        answering machine, then throws it on the settee)  Do you

                        recall what this is?  I spend good money installing it and

                        you don’t even listen to it.

JOHN:            There wasn’t any message…was there Mad?…

ROGER:        You’re havin’ a laugh.  I listened to your poxy voice myself

                        telling me you wasn’t there, before I left the message.

                        You must’a got it.

JOHN:            I didn’t.  I swear.

ROGER:        You’ve cost me ten grand. Ten facking grand. You’re

                        losing it, John. (To Maddy)  Isn’t  he losing it?

MAD:              Seems to me you’re the one whose lost it.

ROGER:        Oh, that’s sharp.  She’s sharp tonight, John.  Tell you

                        what, because she’s brought a smile  to my old boat-race,

                        I’m going to reduce your debt by half. You now only owe

                        me five grand.

MAD:              Now you’re the one having a laugh.

ROGER:        I never joke about my money.

JOHN:            I…can’t pay you five thousand.  I don’t have it.

MAD:              John!  Tell him go fuck himself!

ROGER:        Difficult thing to do – unless you got a dong

                        that goes round corners.

MAD:              Fuck you, buster! (she goes to the sideboard and pours

                        herself a drink.  The bottle is empty now, so she puts

                        it in the bin)

ROGER:        I’m not an unreasonable man. You can pay it off at…

                        say a ton a week.

MAD:              You’ll never make the Comedy Store with material

                        like that.

ROGER:        Well, John?

JOHN:            No.  Roger’s right.  I should have checked the machine

                        properly.

ROGER:        See.  I knew we could settle things amicably.

 (he rubs his hands)  This calls for a celebration. I know.

                        Bubbly. Lets have some  lovely-jubly.

MAD:              You must be joking!

ROGER:        You don’t run to a bottle of the old Dom Perignon then?

                        Pity.  I’ve got a fridge-full at home.  Still, not to

                        worry. Wasn’t that an off-license I saw at the bottom

                        of the street?

Roger takes out his wallet, removes a fifty-pound note, and holds it out.   

After a little hesitation, John takes the note and exits.

ROGER:        No point in having a dog and barking yourself.

                        What do you see in him?

MAD:              None of your effing business.

ROGER:        Must have some hidden talents, Johnny boy.  I mean,

                        he’s not exactly the life and soul, is he?  And he’s no

                        Chippendale, eh?  I mean, you wouldn’t want to rip

                        his trousers off  in a hurry, would you?  Still, he must

                        have something going for him. Maybe he’s got the right

                        knack. You know, what turns you ladies on?

                        Though  where he’s suddenly acquired it from…

                        ‘cos in all the years I’ve known him, he’s had trouble

                        getting his leg over the front doorstep, never mind

                        over…well, you get my drift.

  Maddy sits, pointedly ignoring Roger.  He studies her profile for a moment, then shakes his head.

ROGER:        What did you do before you met John?

MADDY:        Still none of your effing business.

ROGER:        Nah, listen.  For some time now I got this funny feeling about you.

                        Something tells me we’ve met in a previous life.

MAD:              What were you – a pile of manure?

ROGER:        Before you met him…what’s that, six months ago?…what

                        did you do?     Were you ever Miss Whiplash?  You got the

looks for it.  No…?   A dancer?  I bet you was a dancer. You

                        still got the pins.  Lap-dancing up West.  Is that what

                        you did?  The old nut-cracker shufti at my table?

MAD:              Life’s too short to dance with ugly men.

ROGER:        Not dancing then.  How about hooking?  Did you ever

                        do any hooking?

MAD:              I don’t believe what I’m hearing!

ROGER:        No, you’re right.  You don’t look like no hooker I ever knew.

MAD:              And you know plenty, I suppose?

ROGER:        A sex maniac, that’s me.   Can’t get enough of it.

                        You know that survey that found men think of sex

                        every six minutes?  Well, they made a mistake;

                        I reckon it’s  every  six seconds. (laughs)

                        But then, I’m sure Liza has marked your card.

MAD:              Liza  doesn’t confide in me.

ROGER:        You must be the only female in the Western world

                        deprived of that pleasure, then.  Yak, yak, that’s

                        all she does, morning till night.  Her dog-and-bone

                        bill is bigger than a tally-roll at Tesco’s on Christmas

                        eve.  (beat)  Not that she has to pay the facking thing.

                        (another beat)  Mind you, she does do a good turkey.

                        I’ll give her that.

MAD:              I can’t see you appreciating home cooking!

ROGER:        (laughs) Nah, nah.  You got your knickers in a tangle,

                        girl.  Nothing to do with nosh. Well, no…that’s wrong.

  See…it’s…(pause)… What do turkeys do?

MAD:              I don’t know.  Hate Christmas?

ROGER:        Yeah, that’s good. I like a woman with a sense of humor.

                        But it’s not the answer.

MAD:              What is it, then?

ROGER:        (after a pause)  Okay.  Chickens go cheep, cheep

                        Ducks go quack, quack.  Turkeys go…?

MAD:              Gobble, gobble.  (realizes what she has said)

                        Oh, Christ….

ROGER:        Not your cup of tea?  Some women come

                        into their own at that sort of thing. Have the mouth

                        for it.  Like Liza. (pause)  Fellatio, fellatio, where

                        art thou now?  Good fellatiatists…fellatiatists?….are

                        born not made.  Mind you, geography has a lot to do with

                        it.  Take England, for example.  Now, English birds

                        ain’t bad at it…not bad at all. Whereas the Irish, they won’t

                        touch it with a barge pole. Poles now, they’re quite

                        partial to it, but then they would be, wouldn’t they …gives

                        quite a new meaning to the expression ‘sliding down a greasy

                        pole’, don’t you think?… but best of all are American women.

                        They just love it.  ‘Giving head’, they call it. (laughs)

                        You can always tell an American woman by her mouth. Must

                        be all that exercise getting her laughing gear round…

MAD:              Do you practice at being offensive?

ROGER:        Nah.  It just comes naturally. (beat) What are your feelings

                        on going down?

MAD:              On you?  I’d rather go down on a gorilla.

ROGER:        Now, now, don’t be hasty.  It could be financially rewarding.

MAD:              You’re offering me money!  What do you take me for?

ROGER:        Five grand for a few minutes work.  Easy money, eh?

MAD:              You can’t be serious!

ROGER:        Why not? Wipe the slate clean for John.

MAD:              John doesn’t owe you any money.

ROGER:        He cost me ten grand. (pause)  Or maybe you did?

                        Maybe you erased the message?

MAD:              There was no bloody message.

ROGER:        No matter. If I can’t get it out of you, I’ll get it out of him.

 With interest.  He fucked up, he’s gotta pay.  Trouble is,

he can’t afford to pay – not even on my deferred terms.

 You’re a realist, I’d guess….so I’m offering you a way out.

 A blow-job for five grand. (laughs) A grand a minute!

 Even Naomi Campbell doesn’t earn that much!

MAD:              You’re a real bastard, aren’t you, Roger?

ROGER:        Right down to the soles of my Gucci shoes.

                        It’s a done deal, then?

MAD:              You mean now?

ROGER:        No time like the present. (he looks at his watch)

                        If we hurry, you should be able to wash it down with

                        a glass of bubbly.

                                                                                    end of scene one

scene two.

A little later.  Roger has gone; John and Maddy are finishing off the bottle of champagne. John picks up the change from the fifty pounds, which is lying on the table.

JOHN:            Not like old Roger to be so generous.  You must have rubbed

                        him up the right way. (drinks)  Cheers.

MAD:              (almost gagging)  I feel sick.

JOHN:            Might be something you ate.  What did we have for supper?

                        Oh yes, coq-a-vin. 

MAD:              Shut up, you moron! (pause) What’s Roger got on you?

JOHN:            He’s got nothing on me.

MAD:              For God’s sake!  Do I look stupid?  I always wondered

why you stayed with him. I even thought you might

be working some sort of fiddle.  Now I realize you’re

too stupid.  Even the dumbest dog

has more brains than you. Beat a dog enough and

                        it will run away.  You come back for more.

                        Why are you such a wimp, John?

John doesn’t answer, preferring instead to play with one of his cars.  Maddy kicks  it violently across the room.

MAD:              In my book, that’s the equivalent of playing with yourself.

                        Is that what you really want to do for the rest

                        of your life, play with yourself?

JOHN:            (picking up the car)  It’s just a hobby.  Everyone has

                        a hobby.

MAD:              Don’t you ever feel like…I don’t know…

I sometimes feel like Lucy Jordan?

JOHN:            Who’s Lucy Jordan?

Madeline doesn’t reply but sings some lines from ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’

MAD:                          At the age of thirty seven/

she realized she’d never ride/

through Paris in a white sports car…

JOHN:            Ah yes…Dr Hook…

MAD:              Fuck Dr Hook. I’m serious…what has Roger got on you?

JOHN:            It’s long story.

MAD:              And a sad one too, I bet.  Well, here’s one that’s

                        short and sweet.  Tell me what’s going on or I’m

                        packing my good frock and my bag of crosswords.

                        And it’s not for a quiet weekend in Clacton!

JOHN:            You wouldn’t!

MAD:             Come on.  Spit it out.  (almost gags again)

                        God, I wish I had!    

JOHN:            You sure you’re okay? Not morning sickness, is it?

MAD:              At night?  And by what means?  Immaculate conception?

JOHN:            (examining his car)  We used to rob post offices…

MAD:              Do you think that’s feasible?  To conceive immaculately? 

JOHN:           You listening? I said we used to rob post offices…

MAD               And the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary..

JOHN:            Shut up you stupid bitch and listen for once in your life….

(silence)

                        A lot of years ago, Roger, myself and another guy …

MAD:              What other guy?…

JOHN:            Kenny.  His name was Kenny.  We held up post offices for a living.  (Maddy laughs loudly at this) 

We were good at it too. Roger and Kenny, they were

                        the hard cases, done all the rough stuff, waved

                        the shotguns and all that, I just drove the

                        getaway car. And looked after the money. We

                        were rolling in it; cars suits, holidays, you name

                        it, we went and treated ourselves…

MADDY:        You were rolling in it!…

JOHN:            Yeah, rolling in it. You don’t believe me, ask Roger.  .

                        (after a moment)  Anyway, this particular job, the police were waiting. I don’t know if it was a tip-off or what, but they

                        were there. We made a run for it.  We might have

                        made it too, if I hadn’t….(pause)

There was this old woman at a zebra,

 she couldn’t make up her mind whether to cross or not.

 I went to  slow down, but…(pause)

                        Roger put his foot over mine and pushed it to the

                        floor.  We…I swerved, but I couldn’t avoid her.

                        Next thing I know we’re rolling down this embankment.

                        I jumped clear and got away, but Roger and Kenny

                        weren’t so lucky.  They got eight years apiece.

MAD:              And the old woman? 

JOHN:            She had no luck at all

MAD:              You making this up?. 

JOHN:            We all have guilty secrets in our past. I’m sure you have.

MAD:              Oh yeah?  Like we’re all bank robbers and murderers!

JOHN:            Post Offices, not banks.                 

MAD:              But you killed another human being!

JOHN:            It was an accident.

MAD:              Why didn’t you give yourself up?

JOHN:            I couldn’t.  Roger reckoned I was looking at fifteen years.

 I couldn’t do that.  Besides, the police didn’t know who

 I was. And it would stay that way as long as I looked after

 their interests.

MAD:              Meaning?

JOHN:            The money, of course!  Roger’s price for keeping quiet.

                        It was going set them up when they came out.

MAD:              Roger and Kenny?

JOHN:            Yeah.

MAD:              And…Kenny, where’s he now?

JOHN:            Spain somewhere.  A clean break, he said.  I haven’t

                        seen him since he got out.

MAD:              So you wind up working for Roger. What about your share?

JOHN:            That was the price of freedom. Cheap at twice the price,

Roger said.

MAD:              Roger is nothing but a c….a cheap blackmailer.

JOHN:            And what am I?

 (he pours the last of the champagne and drinks it)  

There’s not a day goes by I don’t think of

                        that old woman. Not a night I don’t dream about her.

                        Do you think I wouldn’t undo it all if I could?                  

Why do you think I don’t drive a car anymore?

MAD:              You said it was nerves.

JOHN:            I said a lot of things. Most of it was crap.

He searches the sideboard for some more drink. He finds a little whiskey in a bottle and pours it out.

JOHN:            You see before you a frightened rat

MAD:              You don’t have to take it lying down.

JOHN:            Don’t I?  My fingerprints were all over that car.  All

                        the police need is a word in their ear.

MAD:              He’d do that?  Turn you in?  

JOHN:            You have to understand.  He done eight years for me.

                        Well five…he got out after five

MAD:              And now you’re doing life for him. 

JOHN:            He was very bitter when he got out.  He said I owed

                        him. Owed him eight years of my life.

MAD:              No remission for you?

JOHN:            Ha, ha.

MAD:              And now you’re his dogsbody.  Running around, licking

                        his boots.  (pause) Who is Priestley?

JOHN:            Priestley?…he’s…he’s…

MAD:              Come on!  Spill.  I’m not having another cock-sucker

                        like Roger taking advantage of my generosity.

JOHN:            What do you mean?

MAD:              Never mind that.  I’m just thankful for small mercies.

Who is Priestley?

JOHN:            It’s Kenny. I think he is having a bit of a lean time

                        in Spain. The ten grand was to tide him over.  I

                        don’t know why Roger wanted it stopped.

MAD:              Maybe there wasn’t anything in it for him.

to be continued…

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