Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sunday Sample - A Playlet

My debut novel "A,B&E"  has been described as "experimental", "unconventional" and "radical". I don't think it's for the cocktail recipes that conclude each chapter (referring to the cocktails the protagonist Karen Dash sponges off the people she spins stories to at beach side bars like a down at heel Scheherazade). It might have more to do with the appearance of a small playlet in the middle of the novel.

For Karen Dash is a gangster's moll who had to flee for her life when her husband discovered her infidelity and put a contract out on her. Fortunately the crime under-boss charged with the hit had his own motives for not executing the order and the two of them faked her death and bundled her out of the country. Through her bitterness and the vision from the bottom of one drained cocktail glass after another, Karen composes the scene of the crime under-boss' report to her husband of her successful execution. It is therefore complete fantasy on her part and lets her indulge in all her bile towards her husband and the criminal world that called for her death.

The whole scene is framed at torso level, so the faces are unseen. Enter an ill-fitting chauffeur’s grey suit, the torso threatening to burst out at any one of severalrucks and bulges. This torso narrows the space between itself and an expensively cut suit, the colour of bordello silk, muscularly well filled, but perfectly fitted. TERRY is in the chauffeur’s uniform, DAMON in the silk. The tensing and relaxing of the musculature conveys the emotion that would normally be held by the face. Actions described are through viewed consequence, eg a sip of a drink is discernible by the glass being less full than before when it returns poised in hand at body level.

TERRY I’d like to...

TERRY takes hold of DAMON’s wedding finger and works at the ring.

DAMON Allegiance or forgiveness?

TERRY works off the ring.

TERRY Funny, thought it would be harder to pull off than that

TERRY places ring on floor.

TERRY... for the position you see

DAMON pours himself a drink.

DAMON Refresh my memory. Which position would that be?

TERRY Anterior, posterior, lateral. If the Dutch cap fits-

TERRY removes his peaked cap and punches its heart.

TERRY The position that till recently was being filled every fucking whichway, but has now become suddenly vacant

TERRY peels off leather gloves and drops them into cap. DAMON reaches down to pick up the ring.

DAMON Decree nisi?

TERRY Decree abso-fuckin-lute

TERRY drops the cap to the floor, as his hands manically strum an imaginary lute.

TERRY (as George Formby) When I’m cleanin’ car windows!

Lute playing changes into a mimed chamois wiping, which then abruptly freezes and the fingers curl into a menacing claw.

DAMON Decree’s a passionless word. Too much juris-bloody-prudence. Know what I mean? Legal. Habeas corpus. I tend to find the towelhead term fatwa more copiously delicti

DAMON brings his foot down on the cap.
TERRY’s body flinches.

CHORUS  (unseen)  Oh woe corpus luteum!

DAMON Don’t got no vodka. Scotch do you? Should be champagne really. Didn’t think ahead

TERRY Yeah, well. Whole thing blew up so quick

DAMON Not too quick I hope?

TERRY Scotch’s fine. Ice and water

DAMON Watered down and on the rocks...? That’s not how you usually take it Tel. Oh I get it, very droll. People have drowned for less

DAMON swigs from his glass, so that he ingests the ring. His speech accordingly affected.

DAMON Your hand’s shaking. Sure you want it diluting? Better off  with a stiff one as you always say

DAMON spits ring back into his glass.

TERRY Was she less, or was she more? I trust it was more. It better have been more. To risk everything, for what could have been said with a slap

DAMON What are you, a man or a stuffed scarecrow? Never hit a woman in me life. She was bleedin’ everything to me. So anything less she gave me, meant a complete dereliction

TERRY Alright, alright. Keep your hair on

DAMON Ain’t got none. Number one for number one. Besides, she didn’t show me no respect did she?

TERRY Not gonna get any from six feet under now are you?

DAMON Six feet under? You said you’d burn her body in the Merc. Fucking involuntary suttee, with you to sweep up the ashes for me to piss on-!

TERRY Listen Damon, it’s no way to operate. An overly firm handshake, fair enough. That’s business. That’s the power of suggestion-

DAMON takes swig, again ingests ring.

DAMON Word gets around she’s cheating on me, what’s that going to do for business...? No, okay, you’re right. It weren’t business. Just personal. Very, very personal

TERRY So personal, you got me to do it for you

DAMON Tel, Tel, Tel. She might have pricked my emotions, but I haven’t entirely taken leave of me senses. Bluebottles’ll be over me like a rash. Prime suspect. So how could I be the one to do the deed? They’ll never place you with her now will they? I’d do the same for you. Any one in your personal life you want... chaste-tising, and I’m your man

TERRY I haven’t got a personal life. It’s all devoted to you and the business

DAMON spits ring into his hand and offers it to TERRY in unreciprocated handshake.

DAMON Exactly as it should be. Always has been and always will be, just like brothers. Blood brothers

TERRY Uh-uh. We’re both single children. Orphaned single children

DAMON Jesus Tel! I think you’re starting to lose it mate. Getting a bit flabby around the gills. Bit long in the tooth maybe

TERRY No. I don’t have a taste for doing women if that’s what you mean

DAMON What you complaining about? I gave you the driver an’ all. For symmetry like

TERRY Fuck him! It’s not about him! I done him quick, cos I needed his duds. To get close to her

DAMON Seems to me anyone could get close to her

TERRY You said she’d have to grasp the reason why, from the very nature of her premature ejaculation from this world. So I needed to get close enough to perform it

DAMON You didn’t whip it out, did you Terry? I bet that made you choke more than her. I almost feel sorry for you, you poor bent bastard! Still, there’s a certain piquancy in eliminating her in such a way, that the last overriding stench in her nostrils would be that of elimination. See, you squared the circle. I said you were the man for the job. Find the symmetry in everything you do. Hope you made it linger. Gave her a chance to reflect on the irony of it all

TERRY Don’t be daft. It wasn’t like that

DAMON No, how exactly was it like then?

TERRY I’d seen them at it. In the limo like. She’d be sat turned round in the back, on one of those flip-up seats you reckon establishes status, but to me makes your high-powered limo more of a glorified ‘ackney. Anyway, he’d slide open the partition glass, lean over from the front seat and plant his peaked cap on her head. Then he’d put his arm through and start pawing her neck with the old leather mitt. She’d arch up and back in response, so he’d bring his other arm across her tits. This bothering you?

DAMON Less than you probably

TERRY Well I sees she’s got her eyes shut. Never clocks who’s behind her

DAMON He was fucking her up the shitter? She nev-
(director’s cut)
She had her fuckin’ eyes closed? She nev-
(producer’s preferred option)

TERRY Don’t be stupid! How could he? There was polished leather upholstery between them. It was all going off in her head like. This was just what I believe you handicappers call foreplay. Or is itmatchplay? I can never remember 

DAMON Yeah, I think I got some knock-off of that four-ply down one of the lock-ups

TERRY So that was how I did it. Can’t see nothing from outside with the tint, so she slides into the rear seat all unsuspecting. Dressed in the gear, she only sees the back of my neck and most of that’s cased in the cap. I hear the swish as she vacates the plush leather and the squelch of the cheap seat being flipped down. Now I know she’s got her back to me, so I give her the cap and it’s like I’ve popped her champagne bottle. Made me half jump out of my skin. But she hasn’t cottoned on to me. So I do what I saw Loz do, stroke for stroke, then callous my fingers. She arches back, really into it, like she’s trying to help me finish the job, but when my second hand clamps her throat and not her tits, the eyes flash open

DAMON Oh man, I wish I could have been there

TERRY No you don’t. Those eyes never once showed terror. Damon. At first they were just blazing angry

DAMON She didn’t have no right to be angry!??

TERRY It was only for a split second like. Then I don’t know what they registered. Couldn’t make out nothing written on her face. She weren’t resigned or knowing or anything really. I’d say they were just empty, except for the way she kept them trained on me till the end. I just know she wasn’t afraid

DAMON I didn’t expect her to show fear Tel. I knew she was a good’un when I picked her. I knew she would never crack. That’s what makes what the stupid bitch did even more mystifying. I never thought it would end up me being the one having to try and crack her

TERRY points at himself, before turning his finger to jab at DAMON.

TERRY Me Damon. I was actually the one remember? And I ain’t doing it again for you neither. Rips up the rulebook. People don’t know where they stand if you can do this to your own flesh

DAMON throws up his ring and snatches it out of the air. He then takes TERRY’s finger and addresses the adorning gold signet ring. He swaps them over, so that TERRY has his wedding ring and he wears TERRY’s signet ring. He ends by patting TERRYs hand.

DAMON Yeah, yeah. You got it Tel. Blood’s thicker than water and you and me waded through plenty in our time. You’re my only kin. Let’s go back to exactly how things used to be. See TD, you never went in for this... hollowness. Remained true to yourself. Only have to look at the gold rockface to remember, the heights scaled to get up there. The company seal of disapproval. Twenty-four carat, diamond geezer justice. Branded into the flesh of weaker men. Bosh! How does it feel Tel? It doesn’t quite carry the same weight does it? Unmans yer. She drove me to it Terry, just keep telling yourself that and don’t lose any sleep over it. ‘Rife’ is inlaid in ‘strife’ and ‘riven’ is wholly contained within ‘striven’. Now get out of that ridiculous outfit. You’re starting to come apart at the seams

They exit stage sinister.
BLACKOUT  (from alcohol probably)

CURTAIN FALLS on the person I used to be, the plush life I used to own.

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