MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

strangled sound, and begins to twitch. After a few moments, he subsides again.

LIZA:              Must have been something he ate.

MADDY:        Do you think…?

They both sit, watching Roger.  Eventually, Liza goes to him.  She kneels down over him, listening for a heartbeat. Roger suddenly grabs her around the neck and rises to his feet, dragging her with him.

LIZA:              You’re…you’re choking me.

ROGER:        That’s the facking idea.(he squeezes tighter)

                        No jury would convict me.  Not after what I’ve been

                        through. What do you reckon, Maddy?  Should I

                        top the facking bitch?

MADDY:        (shrugging) She’s your wife.

ROGER:        Now there’s a turn-up!  Why am I not surprised?

                        (he tugs at the chain) You goin’ to unlock this facking thing?

MADDY:        No.

ROGER:        I’ll break her neck.

MADDY:        Like I said, she’s your wife.

ROGER:        See?  That’s who I should’a married.  Miss Whiplash. 

                        She’d ‘a kept me sweet. …

MADDY:        It was Calamity Jane…

ROGER:        I loved that.  Go on, do it again (pause)

                        Well, maybe not right now, eh

                        (laughs)

                        See?  You can’t keep a good man down.

                        Go on, admit it, you both thought I had croaked…

                        (pause)

                        Take more than a few jolts from that box of tricks

                        before I kick the facking bucket…

                        (he makes a few swipes at the table but it’s out of reach)

                        Whose idea was it, eh? Who’s the clever clogs?

                        (pause)

                        Johnny.  Got to be Johnny boy, eh?  Johnny and his gadgets.

                        Why’d you do it, Johnny?  Why’d you turn me over, eh?

MADDY:        After all you did for him. Go on, say it.

ROGER:        Nah, nah…I wasn’t goin’ to say that. I always knew Johnny

                        boy had it in for me.  Felt hard done by.  But then,

                        we all have a cross to bear.  (hard laugh) 

                        Johnny had it in for me all right – in more ways than one…

                        Go on, tell her…(he squeezes some more on Liza’s neck)     

LIZA:              I…I…

ROGER:        What’s the matter?  Cat got your tongue?  (beat)

                        I was banged up and he was banging my wife (beat)

                        Go on, tell her…(

LIZA:              .Of course he was.  And I loved it.  You

                        weren’t much good to me- where you were…..aagh..

ROGER:        How’s that for looking after my interests?

MADDY:        You and John…back then?

ROGER:        But, darling, you should have told her! 

                         I mean, everybody else knew; My mother, Kenny,

                        the whole bloody nick.  (pause) You ever get a Dear John?  No?

Well, I did. Although in my case, it was a Dear Roger.  ‘Dear Roger, John and I have found…’  What was it you found?…well,

                        whatever it was you were going to take it off into the sunset

                        with you, and live happily ever after  on it.   (beat)

                        That’s what it was, my money. (beat)

                        My old mum soon put a stop to that notion.

LIZA:              Your…old mum hated you. She despised you. She told me

                        often enough. The only reason she stopped me from going was

                        because I was too valuable to her. Not because of you.  (beat)

                        You know she tried to abort him?  Oh yeah, she used knitting

                        needles.  She said her biggest regret was that it hadn’t worked.

Silence

.

ROGER:        My old man was an animal. A facking Paddy from the bogs

                        of Aherlow or somewhere. Couldn’t even read the Beano.

                        Made his name beating up navvies for McAlpine.  He

                        practiced on my mum. Every night of the week. The tea

                        was too cold. The spuds were too hard.  The bacon too

                        fatty.  Whack, whack…he laid into her. And then turned

                        on me.  (beat)  One night a new ingredient was added

                        to his dinner.  Painkillers.  He never woke up .

                        (pause)

                        It was the making of my mum.  She never looked back after that.

                        (pause)

                        I knew she tried to…get rid of me. it was because of him 

                        He… told her to – that’s all.

LIZA:              She hates you.  She’s hated you all your miserable life…

                        She hated you so much she even…she…

ROGER:        Go on.  She facking what?

Silence.

ROGER:        You can’t falking talk.

LIZA:              Meaning?

ROGER:        You know what I facking mean  I mean…what’s a kid of three doing

in this world if she can’t hang around long enough to enjoy it?  What’s the facking point, eh? You facking women make me sick. 

 I mean…there’s a kid, all alone in the world…

LIZA:              She had me…

ROGER:        And you had every Tom, Dick and Harry in England.  (beat)

                        The way she tells it she led a few punters up the garden

                        path and rolled them…(laughs)  Oh she rolled them alright…

                        but after, not before.  Always after, if you get my drift.

                        (pause)

                        Go on, tell her how Sophie fell out the window….

LIZA:              You fucking bastard…(she begins to cry)

ROGER:        It was in all the papers at the time. 

                        TRAGIC DEATH OF TOT DEVASTATES MOTHER. 

                        (he shakes Liza)  Isn’t that right…weren’t you devastated?

                        She was so devastated she didn’t even miss

                        her for nearly an hour.   She was too busy trying to roll

                        someone in the next room…

LIZA:              It’s not true…

ROGER         You left the window open.  What mother in her right mind

                        would leave a kid in a room with an open window?  Eh?

                        (pause) It was all smoothed over of course…

LIZA:              (screaming)  Your mother…

ROGER:        Yes, my mother.  Got you off the hook.  Kept you out of jail…

LIZA:              Your fucking mother should be dropped from a great

                        height.  Like the Empire State Building.

ROGER:        My-mother-was-too-facking-good-to-you.

As he speaks ,Roger jerks her neck again, and this time she crumples to the floor.  She lies there, inert.

ROGER:        I believe we were conducting negotiations regarding my diamonds.

 Maddy doesn’t reply. After a moment, she picks up Roger’s mobile phone from the table and dials a number from the menu.

MADDY:        Hello. Yes.  Roger asked me to call.  It’s about the…tom…

                        (laughs)  Yes, I understand… the policy.  He wants to cash it in.

                        (beat)  No I’m not his wife…(laughs)…yes…I suppose you

                        could call me that…(pauses as she makes a face)

                        No…a slight problem…Yes…a few weeks abroad.  He

                        mentioned the name Kenny, said you’d understand….(beat)

                        Alright, till tomorrow then… (she disconnects)

Maddy puts on a coat, then takes the diamonds and looks at them before putting them in her coat pocket.  She makes to leave.

ROGER:        ‘Ere, aren’t you forgetting something?

MADDY:        Am I?  So I am.

She turns the dial under the table to maximum, then walks to where the cable has been unplugged and plugs it back in. Roger dances and screams in unison.

                                                                                                blackout.

scene three

 several weeks later. The flat has been given a facelift, new furniture etc, although the dog-chain is still attached to the wall, albeit artistically arranged. Liza and John are present; Liza is doing the crossword, John is tinkering with his cars.  Both are drinking steadily.

LIZA:              Give a a dog a bone…seven letters…ends in a t…

                        (she throws the book down)…oh Christ, I can’t do it.

JOHN:           Maddy was good at it.

LIZA:              Only gone a week, and I’m being compared to her already!

JOHN:           Two weeks actually. Two weeks, one day…

LIZA:              Two weeks, two months, two years – what does it

                        matter? –  she’s not coming back. (pause)

                        I’ll tell you what else Maddy was good at.  Hiding her

                        true nature.  What she did to Roger…no one deserved that.

JOHN:            You went along with it willingly enough…

LIZA:              At the beginning, yes. It was only to teach him a lesson.  I

                        never meant for it to get out of hand like it did. (beat)

                        You weren’t there, you don’t know what went on.

JOHN:            I know.  I only have your word.

LIZA:              It was your choice. How was Kenny?

JOHN:           Surprisingly laid-back…considering. Behaved like

                        a tourist the whole day.  Madam Tussauds, The

                        Millennium Wheel, Canary Wharf, we saw the lot.  He

                        was gutted to miss the Dome. (beat) Didn’t seem a bit

                        put out that the job had  been knocked on the head….

                        if there ever was a job…(pause)

                        Do you know, I’d swear that he was relieved.

LIZA:              Not half as relieved as you though!  Did he mention me?

JOHN:            Only by reputation.

LIZA:              What do you mean?

JOHN:           He asked if you were still on the game. I said I

                        never knew you were.

LIZA:              I’m not…I mean, I wasn’t.

JOHN:            I said it must have been before my time.

LIZA:              I wasn’t!  Never.  It was just Kenny…being…Kenny.

JOHN:           Anyway, it’s all history now.

LIZA:              (lighting a cigarette) He’s a bastard. (smokes)

                        He’s never really liked Roger.

JOHN:           He hasn’t?

LIZA:              Even way back.  When they were inside, doing time,

                        I sometimes visited Kenny too. (beat)

                        He had no one else, did he?

                        (beat)  It was Roger’s idea. You know what’s he’s

                        like…thought it might cheer Kenny up I suppose.  But

                        Kenny put it about that I was really only coming to

                        see him.  Roger took a lot of stick from the others

                        inside…you know, the hard men, so-called…and it

                        forced him to do something about. (beat) There was

                        a fight…Roger got badly cut…that scar on his neck…

                        There was a big inquiry…

JOHN:           And Kenny lost his remission.  I know. Kenny told me.

                         Roger grassed him up. (laughs)  Bet he would have given

                        anything to have been there watching you and Maddy give

                        him the third degree. 

LIZA:              I didn’t…look, it was all her idea. (pause)

                        I  nearly died, you know.

JOHN:           Yes. Roger tried to strangle you. You told me.

LIZA:              And she looked on.  Almost daring him.  Sitting there,

                        smoking. I mean, smoking!

JOHN:           I agree.  Passive smoking can be bad for you…

                        (sees Liza’s reaction)  Look, maybe you should

                        view it another way.  She didn’t switch on the current

                        again until you were free of Roger, did she?

LIZA:              I suppose not.  I mean…I was on the floor…it was

                        Roger screaming that brought me to…

JOHN:           But you weren’t electrocuted.  Because she was waiting

                        for an opportunity; waiting for you to be free of Roger

                        before switching back on. Don’t you see?

LIZA:              I could have had a broken neck for all she cared.

                         She just left me there. Vanished.  (beat)

                        You don’t know her very well, do you? (beat)

                        You don’t know her at all.    

JOHN:           Does anybody know anybody?  Do I know you?

LIZA:              She was a stripper in her younger days.

JOHN:           So you say.

LIZA:              I don’t say. She admitted as much herself. And

                        Roger…well he almost wet himself when she did

                        her Miss Whiplash bit.  He knows the real McCoy

                        when he sees it.

JOHN:           Pity he can’t confirm it.

LIZA:              Look, whatever she was, she’s gone.  And

                        so are the diamonds.  Roger’s diamonds.  My

                        diamonds.

JOHN:           You still have the house. That should set you up nicely.

LIZA:              I can’t sell it now. Not in the…circumstances.

JOHN:           No?  I suppose not. (beat)  She was good at it then?

LIZA:              Oh yes. A real artiste 

                        Not a piss-artist, like some I could mention.

                        (pause)

LIZA:             She really never performed for you?

JOHN:           Fuck her.  Fuck everyone. Who’s a piss- artist?

LIZA:              You are, dear. I thought I made that clear.

JOHN:           It’s not true.  Not any more.

LIZA:              Once a piss-artist, always a piss-artist. It’s

                        like riding a bike…you never forget.

JOHN:            People won’t let you…forget.

LIZA:              They won’t, will they?

JOHN:           Alright, so I was drunk the day I…killed that

                        old woman. I needed…something…(waves a drink)

                        this…courage…(beat)  Everyone needs…excuses…

                        .(pause)

                        So what if Maddy is all you say she is. It was

                        good while it lasted.  And I don’t think it was all for nothing.

LIZA:              Of course not.  She’s got the diamonds.

JOHN:            So you say.  Well, good luck to her. All of which

                        leaves us stuck with each other.  Again.

LIZA:              Gee thanks!  I’m mad about you too.

JOHN:           I was going to say like old times. But it’s not quite, is it?

LIZA:              What do you mean?

JOHN:           Well, let’s face it, when Roger was inside there

                        was an incentive to getting under the covers with you…

LIZA:              You bastard! You callous fucking bastard…(beat)

                        You loved me!  You said you loved me,

JOHN:           I loved the idea of banging you, while he

                        was banged up in The Scrubbs.  That’s what I loved.

LIZA:              You weren’t much cop at it – if you want to know

                        the truth. But then, that’s par for the course with you, isn’t it?

JOHN:            Eh?

LIZA:              You’re not much good at anything, are you?

                        (she kicks one of his cars and it bounces off the wall)

                        No good for anything.  Not even a decent shag…

By this stage both of them should very much the worse for drink. They fight, spitting and punching at each other. John has her by the throat, when Mona enters. Mona dresses and speaks entirely different than previously.

MONA:           I’m not interrupting anything, am I? The door was open…

John and Liza stop fighting to stare at her.

JOHN:           You’re…you’re…

MONA:           Mona.

LIZA:              Why are you dressed like that?    Like…like…

MONA:           What you mean is, why aren’t I dressed like Mona?

                        the scrubber? Well, surely it’s obvious?  (no reply)

                        Haven’t you figured it out yet?

LIZA:              Figured what out?

JOHN:            It’s the diamonds

LIZA:              (screeching) Figured what out?

JOHN:           You were working together – you and Maddy?

                         (no reply) 

                        Look, I want to know. Please?

                         (no reply)

                        Where’s Maddy?  At least tell me that.

MONA:           I can’t say.

JOHN:           Can’t or won’t?

MONA:           She won’t be back, that I can say

LIZA:              Excuse me. HELLO!.  Am I invisible or what? 

 If you’re not that tart from the office, then who the fuck are you?  And what are you doing here?

MONA:           I just came back to pick up a few of my mother’s things.

                        Jewelry…a few bits and pieces. Sentimental things. (she exits)

Silence.

LIZA:              Her mother!…

JOHN:           Your mother!…your mother!…

Mona returns in a few moments, a jewelry box in one hand. She is pushing a wheelchair containing Roger. The electric shock treatment has paralyzed Roger from the neck down, and also caused him to lose his power of speech. He can only communicate in a sort of grunt.

MONA:           Look who I found.  Should he be left on his own?  I mean…

                        (Rogers grunts, then dribbles)

                         Must be difficult for you? Almost a full-

                        time job, I would have thought. (beat) Like having to

                         look after a baby…(beat)… all over again.

LIZA:              (taking control of the wheelchair form her)

                        Get away from him!  Get away  We can manage!

                        Get out!  Go on!

Liza becomes very attentive to Roger.  Mona shrugs and begins to leave.

MONA:           I’ll pass on your regards to uncle Kenny, shall I?

LIZA:              Kenny?  Your uncle Kenny?

JOHN:           Your mother?  Maddy’s your fucking mother? (Mona exits)

                                                                                    curtain

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