Murder of a Salesman

By Rosalind Billingsley

A comical murder-mystery – with more comedy than mystery.

Phyllis, 40’s, a single mum with high standards, making her way back into social life after years of reclusive devotion to her son.
Ted, Phyllis’s son, 20. Doted upon at home, he is now influenced by Rufus. His speech often shows Rufus’s influence on him.
Anita, a bright child between 5 and 7 years old.
Monique, Anita’s busy mother, single and a councillor.
Bianca, a young foreign nanny.
McNeal, a salesman with an American accent.
Rufus, Ted’s boss, a rough diamond and a larrikin.
(Ted calls him ‘Rufe’, pronounced ‘Roof’)
Gemma and Alex are Monique’s work colleagues. (Alex could be female but is preferably a male actor.)

The Stage – Two family units are one each side of centre stage. Far left is the pump works, far right is a café. (both minimally presented)

We need the impression of two separate apartments on stage but the actors can flow across the front and both families can use the central armchair.

Phyllis’s unit, mainly left of centre, is a warmly lit sitting/dining room. Her kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms are exit left, and front door is upstage. A dining table, left, in the apartment has two seats at it. An armchair with low arms is centre stage. Monique and guests also use this chair once their unit, right, has been established. A table with flowers upstage holds some of Phyllis’s props.

Monique’s unit, stage right, is smart, lit from the left with white light. Her bedroom/kitchen exit is mid right, main entrance is upstage right. She has a double seater or ottoman in the centre of her space level with Phyllis’s armchair. Upstage is a table with flowers, and some props.

The imagined landing and stairs are off upstage.

The apron right is a minimal café, a two seater stool or bench is enough.

The pumping works is forestage and left apron. A fixed board displays a daily work plan on paper. Wheels and levers add interest.

Scene 1

Day 1 – early evening

warmers fade to black.

SFX 1 — Intro music (Handel’s water music) ends, we hear a crash and McNeal screams, cut short by a couple of thuds off stage.

Curtain opens

Centre downstage spot on Phyllis.

Phyllis steps forward through opening curtain to address the audience. She is basically a sedate, confiding person.

PHYLLIS: That scream still haunts me.

It was Hector McNeal. I was very thankful when his dead body was taken away. A lot of people wanted him dead.

He was a great egotist and he is the father of my son. Years ago he left me pregnant and ran off to make a fortune in America. He left me some money and a note, “Phyllis, this should be enough for you to fix it.”

I made my own decision about my baby. (speaks fondly of Ted) Ted is now a grown man.

Phyllis moves left to avoid masking Ted.

Lights up to include Ted’s chair

Ted enters from the left, stands and takes a swig from a stubby.

Look at his long legs.

He takes the TV controller and sits in the easy chair, swigging his beer.

Let’s go back to a time a few days before Hector’s death. Let’s see what happened.

Lighting spreads to whole apartment.

Phyllis walks past Ted upstage and picks up her letters.

SFX 2 — The phone rings.

Ted heaves himself up lazily to answer the phone.

TED: Hi, Rufe? Guessed it was you.

Yeah? You still got toothache?

Naaah, Rufe! Nothin’ happens till you get round here.

Yoeeerp! Gotcher-mate! Be seein’ yer.

He clatters the phone down and resumes his comfort, choking over the beer.

Phyllis carries two letters downstage eagerly.

PHYLLIS: Aren’t you going out with Rufus tonight?

TED: He’s got toothache.

PHYLLIS: Took a day off work, did he?

TED: (proudly) He took the whole week more like.

PHYLLIS: He’s a lazy fellow.

TED: (very proudly) He’s the boss.

PHYLLIS: Oh! I thought he was just a colleague.

TED: He’s an expert.

PHYLLIS: Rufus is an expert? An expert what?

TED: He regulates the sludge ponds.

PHYLLIS: This world has opportunities for everyone!

TED:..We’ve won medals for the quality of the water we discharge.

PHILLIS: So what do you do there?

TED: I send little air bubbles up through the sewage to keep the microbacteria alive. The bacteria’s what digests your crap!

PHYLLIS: So you are an assistant ‘fart’ operator?

TED: The assistant! We keep the ponds aerobic.

PHYLLIS: Aerobic? (with light-hearted movements)

TED: Yeah, that’s it! Alive, dancing and smelling sweet! If the bacteria died, the ponds would stagnate and you’d whiff them way up here!

PHYLLIS: So, our fresh air is all up to you while he’s away?

TED: Sure it is! Now, give me a break, Simpsons are on in a mo.

Phyllis leans down and takes the TV controller.

TED: Mum, what you doing? Don’t take that!

She passes him the newspaper.

PHYLLIS: Here you are read this.

TED: Why?

She wags her letters at him very excited.

PHYLLIS: I want a bit of peace and quiet to read my letters. I’ve had replies from two of my old school friends. They remembered me.

She slits open a letter.

SFX 3 — We hear music, as if through the wall. It continues for a while, though it fades after the first moments to let them speak over it.

TED: (indicates the apartment right) There’s the neighbour’s music blaring. I’ll ask ‘em to turn it down, shall I?

PHYLLIS: Oh, no! No, thank you.

TED: It’s not disturbing your peace and quiet, then?

PHYLLIS: I like dance music. It reminds me of my youth.

TED: (Throws the paper on the floor) I tripped over their kid’s bloody scooter on the landing, last night. You’d expect a neater class of kid up here on the third floor.

PHYLLIS: (looking at a letter) And neater language from my son would be nice too, up here on the third floor.
Ted! This is from Camilla! She was my best friend. !
(Phyllis is alarmed at what she reads)
Oh, my word.

Ted gets up and snatches Phyllis’s letter.

No. Ted!

She chases him to snatch the letter back but Ted holds it out of her reach.

Don’t snatch my letters! That’s very rude!

TED: Oooh! Best friend Camilla! Wooh-hoo! Wolladonga Council are suing her for deception! She accepted a —Wow-Wee! — a diamond-bracelet from one, Hector McNeal, a rotten cunning bastard. Wow! Her language is worse than Rufe’s!


Phyllis takes her letter back.

TED: Watch her. You don’t want to mix with crims, Mum.

Phyllis looks very upset.

Ted slowly notices his mother’s distress. He puts an arm round her. He makes funny faces and chuckles to cheer her up.

Hey, stay positive. It’s okay.

SFX 4 Neighbour’s Music comes through again for a moment.

Cheer up, Mum! Cheer up! I’m sorry! I want you to have friends.
I shouldn’t have snatched it from you.

I tell you what though. — We ought to meet the neighbours. (indicates next door) They’ve got a dishy foreign nanny. I wouldn’t half mind meeting her.

PHYLLIS: Perhaps we’ll meet them on the landing one day.

TED: I’ll go and knock at the door now if you want.

PHYLLIS: Oh, no! Better not disturb them.
Go on, switch on the telly and watch the Simpsons!

She passes him the controller.

Brief blackout

They exit.

Scene 2

The music and time continue from Scene one.

SFX 5 – The lively music, now louder, is playing in this apartment.

light comes up on Monique’s apartment.

Bianca and Anita are dancing energetically to the music.

ANITA: Hands, knees and boomps-a-daisy!

Anita and Bianca sing and dance to the music

When the music ends they totter aside laughing.

BIANCA: We see if it’s cool down.

They go upstage fetch the fudge off the table and return to share it on the double seat.

ANITA: Is it cool? Can I have some?

BIANCA: (touches the fudge with a finger) Ah, ouch! Too hot — ouch!

ANITA: Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! (without tasting it, pretends to burn her mouth)

Enter Monica, upstage, wearing office clothes but holding a scooter.

(Joyfully) Mummy's home!

Anita runs to hug her mother.

Mummy, Mummy!

MONIQUE: (friendly warning) How often do I say: — Don’t leave this on the landing!

Anita scoots round the double seat and returns the scooter to Monique.
Monique gives it to Bianca. Bianca puts it off stage (right) and returns.

Monique cuddles Anita.

Sweetheart, how’s my beautiful girl?

Anita drags her Mum towards the fudge.
Bianca comes eagerly to help show off the fudge.

ANITA: Come! Come! We made fudge!

MONIQUE: Smells good. Let me taste it.

BIANCA: Very hot, Ma’am! I put on saucer for you.

MONIQUE: You do have a lovely time. I’d like to be home making fudge too.

Bianca puts fudge onto a saucer and brings it to Monique.

BIANCA: Take care, very hot, Ma’am.

MONIQUE: (gives puts an arm round Bianca) It is lovely to have you here, Bianca, dear. I couldn’t wish for anyone better.

BIANCA: Anita very good child, Ma’am.
You had good day, Ma’am?

Monique sits beside Anita on the double seat with the fudge. Bianca hovers beside them.

MONIQUE: Just checking contracts, preparing reports and making recommendations to Council.

Monique and Anita blow on a piece of fudge before nibbling it.

Very good!

ANITA: Gra-aaa-te!!

MONIQUE: Sometime tomorrow, Bianca, you should take some of this in next door. We must show a friendly face.

BIANCA: Yes, Ma’am. We wrap it pretty like a gift.

Ah — Ma’am — a man brought this for you.

Bianca gives a fancy envelope to Monique and takes the saucer.

He say give best wishes to you, Ma’am and thank you for welcome him to our town.

Monique opens the envelope and takes out a fancy voucher. Bianca takes the fudge saucer to the table. Anita looks at the voucher with her Mum.

MONIQUE: A gift voucher! (sees the amount) Wooh, too kind! I only recommended a hotel. Then I called the hotel and took his travel bag round to him. He’d left it in my office.

BIANCA: He very nice. He ask me about my country.

MONIQUE: Well, this won’t do, it is far too much.

BIANCA: Anita, come.

Bianca takes Anita along with her; they exit.

Monique picks up he her phone dials and speaks.

MONIQUE. Van-Gogh hotel?
Would you put me through to Hector McNeal, please? Thank you.


Exit Monique

Scene 3

Day 2 – early evening

Light comes up on Phyllis’s apartment

Ted is getting up from the table, Rufus is still sitting finishing eating.

TED: Looks like yer toothache’s better, Rufe?

RUFUS: (rubs belly, belches) Yeah- tis ta! And that was great tucker.
You got it made here, Ted. You sure got it made.

TED: That black eye hurtin’ you?

RUFUS: Gettin’ over it! No good cryin’ about it.

TED: I’ll grab me wallet then we’ll rock and roll out of here.

Ted Exits to left.

Phyllis enters and puts her handbag on the little table up stage.

Rufus stands up to respect her entrance.
She is far from delighted to see him.

PHYLLIS: Good evening Rufus. Is your toothache better?

RUFUS: Yeah ‘tis, ta very much.

Ted enters with wallet, ready to go out for the evening.

I see you found the meat pie I made, Ted?

TED: Yes. Er, I hope you didn’t want some, Mum?

PHYLLIS: It’s alright. I’ll find myself something.

RUFUS: Real good it were! Ted threw me a bite.

PHYLLIS: (indicating the carpet) It was quite a long throw by the look of all these crumbs!

They both stoop and pick up some litter, but Rufus stands up again quickly to indicate the marvellous effect the meal has had on his belly.

RUFUS: Oooh! It were full of chunks o’ smackeroo juicy steak, parsnip and turnip and that touch er pepper pickle in the gravy. (rubs belly) Ah, me belly’s all warm and movin’ with it. Yer’re a girl with the pastry, Phyllis. Great spread.

PHYLLIS: Yes, (looks at table) it certainly did spread!
Perhaps Ted will take the empty plates to the kitchen before you go out.

She picks up the plates.
Ted stares blankly at them, and then stares blankly at Phyllis.

No, I’ve changed my mind.

TED: (relieved) Wow, yer nearly knocked me down, Mum.

PHYLLIS: Though I only asked you to take them out, I would actually like you to wash the plates, please.

She hands him the plates. He takes them with mock horror on his face and speaks to Rufus in a stunned, comical manner.

TED: Hey Rufe, I gotta wash ‘em!

PHYLLIS: Ted, don’t show off.

Ted exits with the plates and cutlery.

Rufus brushes crumbs off the table onto the floor.

RUFUS: I’m allus at yer service, Phyllis.

He the empty beer bottles from the table to tidy up.
She backs off as he sidles up to her, saying with his best smarmy grace.

Nice day in that shop of yours, was it, Phyllis?
Cash register workin’ okay, Phyllis?
Custimers good to yer, Phyllis?

PHYLLIS: It was much as usual thank you, Rufus.

RUFUS: Yeah? Always a good sign when things go well.

PHYLLIS: And did all go well for you at the sewage works?

RUFUS: I dunno yet, I was orf!

She picks up a tray and to put the muddle from the table onto it.

PHYLLIS: Of course you were. Sorry, I forgot that.
Ted was telling me about the work you do. Thank you for looking after him.

RUFUS: I always try to do that. (points to black eye)

PHYLLIS: That black eye wasn’t Ted?! (horror that Ted caused it)

RUFUS: Nah! But see, I met this chancer, name of Hector McNeal.

PHYLLIS: Hector McNeal? (Phyllis, catches her breath, and sits suddenly on one of the upright chairs.)

Rufus sits opposite her.

RUFUS: He came round me ’ome askin’ questions.
Checks me out like I was a long lost mate of ’is. Says he ‘e feels like a brother to me cause ’es got connections in sewage.

Then ’e starts askin’ who works with me!

PHYLLIS: Oh, my word!!

RUFUS: Yeah, I don’t know the reason be’ind ’is questions. so I told ‘im, I said, “I don’t know what yer after but the names of my collig’you’es ain’t fer sale.”

PHYLLIS: Don’t give out my address, please!

RUFUS: I didn’t give out nothin’.

PHYLLIS: (severely) Hector McNeal is a complete stranger to me and I prefer to keep it that way.

RUFUS: (He is surprised by her forceful answer) Yeah, Phyllis? (Very thoughtfully) Phyllis, I never expected you did know ‘im. (pause while he considers if he dare ask more)

’e said he’d teach me a lesson if I didn’t show ’im the more ’elpful side of me nature.

I said, “Me tellin’ yer to piss orf is as ’elpful as I get.”

PHYLLIS: And did he — ? (He looks enquiring. She stands looking uncomfortable) ‘piss off’!

RUFUS: ’E offered to come round to the treatment plant and visit me and Ted.

I said, “If yer come round I’ll show it to yer! I’ll heave yer right inta me sludge pond and give yer a taste of it! (laughs heartily at the thought of it.)

PHYLLIS: (brightening a bit) That was splendid!

RUFUS: And I will, Phyllis. A man o’ me word I am. I said, “Yer a walkin’, breathin’ (stands up, fired with enthusiasm) catastrophe waitin’ to ‘appen! I can see it written all over yer silly face, as clear as midday.”

PHYLLIS: Whatever did he say about that?

RUFUS: ‘E gave me a black eye — that’s what he did. (demonstrates fist into eye) ‘e says, “Take that. Wop!”

I said, “Get out me ’ouse   and watch me door don’t ’it yer on the bum as yer go!”

Phyllis stands and walks right. Rufus levels with her to her left.

PHYLLIS: You may want to report this to the police, but please don’t bring Ted or me into your quarrel with him.

RUFUS: Nah, I jus thought I’d mention it to yer in passing.
So as you keep a look out fer yerself.

PHYLLIS: Thank you.

RUFUS: And yer secret’s safe with me, Phyllis. (wink) I mean if yer got any secrets, Phyllis. (wink)

Phyllis remains to the right of Rufus.

PHYLLIS: Ted is taking a long time. I’ll see if he needs any help picking out a clean shirt.

RUFUS: Ted’ll be spikin’ up his ‘air with his ‘air jel.
(grins and winks) ‘E loves his air jel, Ted does!
and his potions and lotions!

Rufus fired with his success.

An’ I’d come and scrub your back in the bath, Phyllis, any day of the week.

Phyllis moves downstage of him and passes him towards the left exit.

PHYLLIS: You cheeky hound!

As she starts to exit.

SFX 6 — The phone rings.

Rufus is startled by the phone. He grabs a banana off the table and hands it to Phyllis.

RUFUS: ‘Ere y’are, Phyllis.

She puts the banana to her ear and speaks into it.

Phyllis: Hello.

He grabs the phone and rushes it to Phyllis. She reacts to her mistake.

‘Ere y’are, Phyllis!

She takes the phone, hands the banana back to Rufus. He stands grinning and holding the banana.

Just a moment. I’ve got a clown playing the ape around me.

Ted enters.

Phyllis shoos Rufus and Ted out:

Off you go, out, both of you.

The men exit.

Phyllis moves downstage centre. She then paces excited by the call.

Camilla? How wonderful to hear from you.

I got your letter. I must say, it doesn’t sound like you! Accepting a bribe; hiding vital information!

But my dear, I do know Hector McNeal. I knew him years ago, before he went to America. Oh yes, that dirty stinking hog is back!

And it’s terrible of me, but I wish he was dead and buried.

Ted enters with his wallet in his hand and goes to pester his mother.

Ted displays his empty wallet to Phyllis. She waves him off for the moment.

TED: Mum! I need some cash! Rufe hasn’t been to the bank and I’m clean out.

Phyllis shushes Ted. He waits somewhat impatiently.

PHYLLIS: (to phone) Camilla, dear, why don’t you come and visit.

Tell you what; we’re having an old time band concert in the park a week Sunday. We can go together.

But you are only a few hours away.

TED: Mum, please!

Phyllis lifts the phone and after the first words speaks dolefully.

PHYLLIS: Well, of course, if you don’t want to come.

(to Ted, crestfallen) She’s got a boyfriend to consider. She doesn’t want to desert him. She won’t come.

TED: (bossy, world weary voice) Pass her to me!
Hello - Camilla. This is Phyllis’s son, Ted speaking. I have to tell you that my Mum’s got her heart set on meeting up with you. So you’ve gotta get yourself down here.

No problem. Just bring the boyfriend and all. Mum’s a hundred percent synthetic about having you here!

In showing off mood he gives the phone back to Phyllis.

All fixed. She’ll come now!

Phyllis takes the phone and puts her arm lovingly through Ted’s as she talks to Camilla. Ted is proud of his work with Camilla but he is still after some cash.

PHYLLIS: Hello. It’s Phyllis again.

Yes. It was my very sweet son, Ted!

Oh no! Certainly bring the boyfriend with you.

I won't be a gooseberry. Listen, to what I’ll do. I will bring my own boyfriend! Yes! I’ll just choose a chap from my long list of chaps! We’ll have a lovely foursome. I’ll see you a week on Sunday. That’s settled.

Phyllis ends the call and moves upstage to pick up and open her purse. Ted reaches across and pulls a bank note from the purse. He thanks his Mum then has a horrible thought.

TED: Mum, what chap are you gonna invite? You ain’t got no list of chaps!
(double take) Oops, Mum! No way! I’m not coming with you to an old ladies’ band concert!

RUFUS: Are we orf yet?

Ted moves to exit

PHYLLIS: Ted, wait! (She drags him back)
Your shirt! It won’t do! Come and change it!

She drags Ted to bathroom.

Ted turns to Rufus and says, amused and apologetic:

TED: Hey Rufe, I’ve gotta change my shirt!

PHYLLIS: Come with me!

She grabs his arm and they exit to bedroom.

Rufus moves downstage via right of table.

There is a knock upstage.

Anita and Bianca enter.

BIANCA: Hello.

They move downstage left around table, to Rufus.

ANITA: Here’s a present for you.

She gives him a pretty vase shaped paper wrap of fudge, open at the top. Then she steps away slightly.

RUFUS: For me?

BIANCA: A gift from Ma’am next door.

RUFUS: Ye-a-h? (Anita, head tipped up, watches closely.)

ANITA: (intrigued and copying Rufus’s voice) Ye-a-h?

He goes towards them - meaning well. Anita backs away nervously.

RUFUS: Very kind gestcher. I always did fancy a bit of sweet stuff.

Bianca is affronted and takes Anita’s hand.

ANITA: We’re going home now.

RUFUS: Yeah? Thanks, kid. Pleased to know you too.

BIANCA: Goodbye.

ANITA: Goodbye.

RUFUS: G’bye, darlin’s.

Bianca and Anita exit upstage.

Re-enter Ted left, in clean shirt.

TED: I’m ready to go now, mate.

Rufus offers him the fudge.

RUFUS: ‘Ere grab a bite. Girl next door brought it in.
Real charmer with a kiddie alongside.

Very kind gestcher. Folks don’t usually give me sweets.
They must have taken a fancy to me.

TED: They might be meant for me, or me Mum.

RUFUS: Yerh reckon?
Yer ought ta cultivate good folks like ‘em.

They take a piece each.

TED: I will cultivate ’em when I get a chance to meet ’em.

Rufus puts a piece of fudge into his cheek and scrunches. —Then toothache strikes! He spits the fudge from his mouth into his hand.

RUFUS: Yeouch! Yep!! These’ll be yours.

TED: Toothache?!

He gives the packet of fudge at Ted. Ted takes it.

RUFUS: Take the whole lot. It’s too sweet for me!

TED: (Very pleased) Ta very much.

Rufus and Ted exit upstage.


Scene 4

Next morning

Light up on ‘café’ and on apron across the downstage area.

Monique and Anita sit on the café bench.

Monique gives Anita a colouring book and crayons.

As lights come up, Gemma enters downstage left, looking smart, and walks across to Monique.

GEMMA: Hi, Monique.

MONIQUE: You’re looking very smart, Gemma.

GEMMA: Why not? I’m expecting a smart lunch. Is this it?

MONIQUE: We’re meeting here and moving on to the smart lunch.

Gemma picks up and admires Monique’s handbag.

GEMMA: Monique, this is a Lou-Vitty, isn’t it!?

Monique shows her the label inside the top of the bag.

MONIQUE: Hector McNeal gave me a gift voucher for it. He had to use it up before it went out of date. It is Lou-Vitty!

GEMMA: (in her ear) Are you sleeping with him?

MONIQUE: Not likely. I only met him very briefly.

GEMMA: Are you sure?

MONIQUE: I ought to know!

GEMMA: He took me to dinner at the Van-Gogh hotel last night! It’s a swell place.

MONIQUE: I know it is. I recommended it to him.
Gemma, he’s only been in town two minutes. When did you meet him?

GEMMA: He came out of your office and said he’d be having a lonely evening unless some angel like me would take pity on him. So I took pity on him and ate in style.
Then he said he was tired, so I slipped off home.


GEMMA: He hasn’t asked me out this evening, so perhaps he’ll invite you.

MONIQUE: (looks at the crayoning) You should colour these bobbles on his hat.

GEMMA: Is Anita coming with us to lunch?

MONIQUE: Yes, she is. Bianca’s at her English class this morning.
I’ve given her the rest of the day off for clothes shopping.
She needs something special for a hot date tonight.

GEMMA: Lucky girl.

Monique looks at her wristwatch.

MONIQUE: Well, Hector McNeal is late.

GEMMA: He was going out to Alex’s home this morning.

Alex has a beautiful home. Alex had shown him some very impressive photos of it.

MONIQUE: Yes, it is lovely. But McNeal is just a salesman. He doesn’t have to know all our private business. (Leaning closer to Gemma)
You want to take care with him.

GEMMA: Oh, ho, ho. Such concern from the lady with the Lou-Vitty handbag. I am impressed.

MONIQUE: (to Anita) Here’s another bobble needs colour.

GEMMA: He just likes to know who he’s dealing with.
That’s perfectly fair.

MONIQUE: (shushes her) Here they come.

McNeal and Alex enter downstage left.

McNEAL: I always travel first class and my company has a VIP stand at all the big matches. I always get front row seats for myself and my guests.

They walk across the apron to centre stage as they talk, McNeal upstage and leading slightly. At centre stage they continue to talk face to face.

Gemma flicks her hair and Monique checks her lipstick.

ALEX: That sounds all right.

McNEAL: The company runs a bar and gourmet hot and cold food all day for us. After the game we usually spend the night at The Dazzling Paradise Girls.

ALEX: There’s not much nightlife here.

McNEAL: No problem. I’ve already found a bit of fluff to entertain myself with.

ALEX: You’re a fast mover, I’ll give you that.

McNEAL: I know how it works in these drowsy little towns.
You’d probably like to travel a bit yourself.

ALEX: Yes, I’d like it.

McNEAL: Head office is looking for a consultant. It’s a plum job if you like travel. You’d go ahead of me, pave the way for me in the Far East! Europe! The US of A!

ALEX: I’d like that. I like your product.

McNEAL: We’ll talk more about it over lunch.

They join Monique, Gemma and Anita.

ALEX: Gemma, Monique, do you know Hector McNeal?

GEMMA: Yes. We’ve met.

MONIQUE: And we’re certainly getting to know him.

McNEAL: Well, if we’re all ready, shall we go and eat?

GEMMA: Where are you taking us?

McNEAL: Are you afraid of flying?

GEMMA: No. I mean I’ve never flown yet, but I’d like to. Do you have a Lear jet or something?

McNEAL: Stick to me, Angel, and I’ll show you the world.

They get up, chatting, and exit right


Scene 5

Light up on Phyllis’s apartment, evening

Ted is looking at the telephone answering-machine on the table

Rufus enters.

RUFUS: Yer ready ta shift?

Ted looks at Rufus glumly and beckons. Rufus moves across to join him.

TED: See this red light flashing. It’s a message. I heard it come in. It’s for my Mum.

He presses a button on the machine.

SFX 7 — Message one. sunday, six pm. (A Woman’s voice on answering machine says:) “hello Phyllis, It’s Erin Page here. i loved receiving your friendly letter. I’ve won a luxury cruise for two. Would you like to come and join me on it? Phone me back on 02 …

Ted has pressed ‘stop’ button.

RUFUS: Yer Mum’s got invited on a luxury cruise!

TED: So, who will cook my dinner and make me bed?

RUFUS: Who’s gonna make that gormaray packed lunch yer bring to work every day.

TED: I dunno!

RUFUS: You’ll be left alone like me. Mind. I'd take Phyllis off yer ’ands any day of the week!

TED: You? And my Mum?! You’d never dare!

RUFUS: I’m no yellow-bellied chook. I can reel em in.

TED: My Mum don’t think that well of you, Rufe.

RUFUS: I'd do anythin’ for the chance to eat like you do.

TED: She wouldn't look twice at you!

RUFUS: Too earthy. Too full of shit and sewage?

TED: She’s very strict and proper — and she’s my Mum!

RUFUS: Well, are we going down ta pub fer darts, or not?

TED: I can’t go out, not with this message hanging over me. I’ve got to explain it to her.

RUFUS: I think she’ll grasp the meanin’ of it quick enough.

TED: Hell, Rufe! My mother’s leaving me, that’s what we’re talking about!

RUFUS: Yeah! One message comes in an all yer luxury’s gone — clean out the windah. Well, (leans over the machine wags a finger) maybe one of these buttons could, er — erase it orf.

TED: What d’you mean? I couldn’t delete it!

RUFUS: Save yer a lot of ’artache. And then we can get out for a game and take our minds right off it.

TED: I wish, Rufe.

RUFUS: So which of these is the deleting button?

They goggle closely at the machine, fingers close to the delete button

TED: Er, this one here, I guess.

On the word ‘guess’ their heads turn together. Their hands jolt.

RUFUS: That’ll be yer mother coming back!

SFX 8 — (tel voice:) message one deleted. All messages deleted.

TED: (alarmed) Rufe! What have yer done?!

RUFUS: (steps back) Stand clear mate! Weren’t me did it!

Enter Phyllis.

PHYLLIS: Ted, dear. Hello, Rufus. How are you?

RUFUS: We’re orf out fer er game er darts.

PHYLLIS: Alright, off you go.

TED: I’ve got ter tell you something, Mum. Er —.

Rufus grabs him by the arm.

RUFUS: Move yerself, Ted.

TED: Yeah, (gives his Mum a peck on cheek)
tell you when I get back, okay?

PHYLLIS: Are you sure it’s just darts you’re going to?

RUFUS: Unless you want me to er, (with a nod and wink to Ted) take you somewhere else, Phyllis.

PHYLLIS: No. I don’t, thank you, Rufus.

She stalks away downstage. Ted follows her.

TED: Mum needs a man to take her to the band concert in the park next weekend.

PHYLLIS: (frowning a warning) Ted dear, please.

Rufus follows them to stand downstage. Ted stands by Phyllis. Rufus a few steps left faces them.

RUFUS: (Stunned) Me! Take you to a band concert, Phyllis?
(then even more stunned, he grins) Me, Rufus?

TED: Next weekend’s not far off.

PHYLLIS: That’s true. (pauses, considers, then explains, in dignified tone) I’ve an old girl friend coming with her boyfriend and we want to make it a foursome.

TED: Step it up Rufe. Here’s your big chance.

RUFUS: (At first he is keen then grows ever more doubtful) Oooow. Ooow! Ooow.

TED: (pointing out Rufus to Phyllis) After a good scrub in the bath, he could do it. You could buy you fresh clothes from the charity shop. With a shave and a decent hair cut.

A pirate patch over the black eye. Novelty!

PHYLLIS: Yes, well — what do you say?

RUFUS: (holds up his hand to stop her) Nah! Can’t be done.

Ted flaps elbows and squawks to signify ‘chicken’.

Trouble is me bladder problem, me gallstones, me kidney trouble - and the state of those public lavvies! Couldn’t risk me ‘ealth in them.

Ted, waves his elbows again and clucks, imitating a chicken.


TED: But, he’s willin’ to drink a beer here and discuss it.

RUFUS: Yeah, I’d be real glad to join Ted at the trough ’ere, anytime, Phyllis. Love yer pastry!

PHYLLIS: I should never have considered asking you.
Off you go — out, both of you!

Rufus and Ted exit upstage hastily.


Scene 6

Light on Monique’s apartment.

Monique is greeting Gemma.

MONIQUE: Gemma, thanks for coming so early.

GEMMA: This is all your post. (hands her some paperwork) Is Bianca back yet?

MONIQUE: No, she’s been out all night.
I’m still stuck here waiting for her.

GEMMA: Still out on that hot date?

MONIQUE: It’s a worry.

GEMMA: No call?

MONIQUE: Nothing. She’s left her phone here. I beg her to keep it with her but she’s always afraid of losing it.

GEMMA: McNeal thinks Bianca’s an illegal immigrant. He’ll be blackmailing you to recommend his new water treatment plant of his to Council.

MONIQUE: Well, Bianca is not here illegally and I’ve no intention of recommending a plant we don’t need. I’ve heard that our present water treatment plant has been winning medals for the quality of water we discharge.

GRMMA: Hector’s still got work to do on you then.

Should we call the police about Bianca?

MONIQUE: No. Of course not!

GEMMA: Shy about involving the police are you?

Monique paces rather anxious, looking at her watch.

MONIQUE: No! Well yes, because she’ll probably be rushing home full of apologies. She’s a grown girl out on a date. I just wish she’d told me where she was going.

GEMMA: Does she often sneak off?

MONIQUE: No. I often urge her to go out more. Now, I’ve got Anita on holiday, full of anxious questions. Thank goodness for the Disney channel keeping her amused.

GEMMA: Well, Monique, give me your blessing. Hector has asked me out again tonight and I’m going. Why not? (Interrupted by phone)

SFX 9 Monique’s phone rings

MONIQUE: Hello. Oh Bianca, darling, where are you ringing from? What did he do?!!! Just stay there and keep the door locked. I’ll come and fetch you at once.

(to Gemma, thrusting the letters back to her) Here. I must dash. Make my apologies at work.


Scene 7

Light apron and left side of stage – the pumping station.

Rufus and Ted are at work in the pumping station.

SFX 10 — Sewage works sounds of pumps and water.

TED: Nice to have you back at work, Rufe.

RUFUS: (He indicates the audience as if they are the sludge pond.)

Ponds looks to be all in order. Pumps all working normal. Aeration and digestion ’appenin’. Sludge dancin’ nicely. Yer followed me plan well. (Indicates plan on wall)

Yer’re a good mate, Ted.

TED: Sure I am. You’re the second person said that to me today. I met this chancer on me way in. See this? (shows off a watch)

RUFUS: Rolex watch? Who gave yer that?

Ted shows off a jar of white powder.

TED: The same cove who gave me this jar of white powder. (amused) I’ve got to tip it into the sludge pond.

Rufus takes the jar and holds it up for a thoughtful inspection.

RUFUS: Yer know what it is?

TED: No?

RUFUS: Was this chancer’s name, Hector McNeal?

TED: Yep, I guess.

RUFUS: ‘E’s the bugger what blacked me eye!

TED: Hell Rufe! Honest?

RUFUS: He’s trying to do us in! You put these in our ponds and we’ll be past ’istry.

Digestion’ll go caput. Biochemist ‘ull be ropeable! Police’ll be ‘ere. The stink’ll be out this world.

TED: I’d better get rid of this stuff pretty quick then.

RUFUS: Good lad. Yer’re a real good lad!

Ted takes the jar and exits.

Rufus taps a few dials looks out and turns a handle and looks lovingly through his window to the audience as if into his ponds.

Ted re-enters with empty jar.

RUFUS: (grins) Deed done? What did you do with it?

TED: (pleased with himself) I flushed it down the lavvie.

RUFUS: Yer what!!!?

Rufus stares at Ted and Rufus’s grin fades to horror.

Ted stares back, puzzled, then light dawns on him.

TED: (speaking very slowly) Oh Shit!!!!

RUFUS: Bloody hell, Ted! Yer know where it’s gonna end up?! In me bloody sludge ponds, eating me bloody microbes. Bloody hell, you’re a witless kid.

TED: Oh, yeah! Sorry, Mate!

RUFUS: Sorry! You’re sorry! We’re ruined for sake of a bloody watch!
He could have saved his money on the bloody watch.

TED: It weren’t for the watch I did it. You know that!

Rufus and Ted are close together in identical positions head in hands.

RUFUS: Of course I know! Yer too stupid to read the time of day, yer silly bugger!

TED: And he said I’d get a top position with this new pump works he’s selling ta Council. I’d give job over to you, of course.

RUFUS: What new pump works? Nobody tells me nothin’.

TED: Maybe I didn’t hear him right, Rufe.

RUFUS: Ferget it. Jus tell me how ta save me ponds.
We’re in the poo, Ted. Up shit creek an’ all, Ted.

(taking in the audience with painful sweep) All me poor bacteria!

TED: Aaaah. (relief) Aaah.(a prayerful reflection) Aaaah. (true sadness at Rufus’s pain) Hell, that’s sad about them, Rufe! Yer know I didn’t mean it, not fer the world.

RUFUS: I gotta report it.

TED: So, er, what’ll happen to me now?

RUFUS: You? Yer nincompoop! You’ve got two choices. One, yer ‘fess up to poisoning our microbes with the powder. Admit yer crime to our biochemist.

TED: I’ll get the sack?

RUFUS: And mos’ likely spend the rest of yer life runnin’ from police ‘cos of that watch.

TED: I’m not too fast on me feet.

RUFUS: Choice two – yer don’t admit it.

TED: (reverently) That’s the boy for me, Rufe.

RUFUS: I’ll phone the biochemist and report summat that ’appened by accident by an unknown pers’nage.

Rufus hastens upstage to ‘phone’ on mobile, his back to us.

Ted kneels to dip imaginary water from over the front of the stage, into his empty jar. He stands, sniffs it, grimaces and throws the ‘water’ back into the pond – the audience.

Rufus returns.

Done without blamin’ anyone. Could ’av been vandals. Biochemist’s glad I spoke up quick. And now you have to kill the creeping cane toad so he can’t testify against yer.

TED: You mean kill McNeal?

RUFUS: Don’t you never watch the box, mate?

TED: Yes. But, I never planned to murder no one.

RUFUS: Too late now. Yer took the watch.

TED: I could find ‘im and give it back.

RUFUS: No good. It’s second-hand now, not worth so much. And he’d still dob you in for doing the dirty deed.

TED: Then I’ll be in double trouble. I’ll have a watch and a dead body to get rid of! I’m no good at getting rid of stuff. (Taps the jar) We both know that. You gotta help me!

RUFUS: D’you know where to find this gink?

TED: He already said he knew where to find me!

RUFUS: (passes his hand across his throat as if cutting it) Ooop-oh, that’s nasty! You want me to spell it out?

TED: (pleading) Just give me a plan to follow. You’re the man with plans. (Indicates the wall chart) And I can follow a plan.
You took me on, Rufe! You’re responsible for me now! I’m jus’ the little bugger with his foot on the bottom of the ladder.

RUFUS: Your foot ain’t nowhere near the bloody ladder.

TED: But I always share me tucker with you, Rufe.

Rufe ponders and slowly becomes more cheerful.

RUFUS: Yeah. You do that, mate.

TED: And me mother might like yer better if yer help me.

RUFUS: Come ’ere, son. (puts an arm round Ted) I’ll get yer a plan. This is what yer ’ave ter do.
First thing, we do is murder that bloody slimy cane toad.

TED: (timid agreement) Yeah.

RUFUS: Then we ‘eave him onto the tip truck and fetch it down ’ere, weigh him down with bricks, put ‘em in his jacket, zip it up. Usual caper.

TED: Yeah?

RUFUS: You gotta wear gloves when yer tackle ‘im!

TED: Mum has a pair of bright yellow gloves in the bathroom cupboard.

RUFUS: They’ll be right.

TED: Then what?

RUFUS: Bring the body ‘ere and tip him in this sludge digestion pond.

TED: Yer won’t get police divers in there!

Throw him in alongside the yellow gloves?

RUFUS: Dispose of the gloves sep’rate. Yer don’t see James Bond leavin’ no bright yella gloves floatin’ about.

TED: So, I chew up the gloves and swallow them? They’ll be right tough chewing, Rufe!

RUFUS: Jus wash em through and put em back in yer mother’s cupboard. That’s good enough.

And seein’ as how we don’t want a dead body in our sludge pond when digestion’s not workin, we gotta get ’im in there real damn quick.

Biologist’s gotta deal with this. We’ll go and fetch the gloves.

TED: Let’s go get ’em, Rufe! Thanks mate!

Rufus and Ted exit as they speak their last paragraph.


Scene 8

Light on Monique's apartment

Anita is lying on the sofa.

Monique enters with Bianca.

Anita jumps up and runs to greet them, putting her arms around their legs.

ANITA: Mummy, Mummy! Bianca!

MONIQUE: Whoopsie! You’ll have us both over.

Bianca laughs through her tension of tears and fright.

(to Anita) Bianca needs a big, big hug, a big loving hug.

Bianca takes Anita’s hand lovingly. They go to sit together on the couch Anita snuggles up to Bianca, who cries and pets Anita.

MONIQUE: Should I call the police?

Bianca shakes her head.

Are you sure? You got away from him before anything really serious happened?

BIANCA: I escape, Ma’am. I run into bathroom and lock door.

MONIQUE: So you spent all night cowering in his hotel bathroom.

Bianca weeps. Monique goes to the table upstage for a drink for Bianca.

Did he bang on the door all night to make you come out?

BIANCA: He mew like cat and laugh at me. “Come out pussy, pussy cat! Come out little pussy cat.” I want to open door and scratch his eyes out!

MONIQUE: But you kept the door shut.

Bianca nods and wipes away tears.

BIANCA: This morning I open door. He not in room! I put chain on bedroom door, lock shut, run to telephone by bed and phone you Ma’am.

Monique brings the drink to Bianca.

MONIQUE: Drink this; it’ll steady your nerves.

It’s been a horrible experience, you poor darling.

BIANCA: (sobs and sips drink) Yes, Ma’am!

MONIQUE: And it was definitely Hector McNeal. The same man who brought me the gift voucher?

BIANCA: Yes, Ma’am. I buy new clothes for dinner with him. He want to hear more about my country. Then after dinner he ask me help choose a shirt for him for meeting. I go to his room.

MONIQUE: Then he pounced on you?

BIANCA: Because I foreign, he think . . . (floods of tears.)

MONIQUE: Come on, you’ve got sleep to catch up with. Lets get you to bed.

I’ve missed several meetings. I must make some phone calls.

BIANCA: I go with Anita, Ma’am

Bianca and Anita exit.

Monique takes her phone, dials and speaks.

MONIQUE: Gemma, Bianca’s back but she’s a total wreck. Please bring me all McNeal’s paperwork. I must check it again before the Council vote tomorrow. No time to explain now. Just come. Okay.

She rings off, then dials again.

Alex, it’s Monique. I need your help. Gemma’s bringing McNeal’s paperwork to me at home. Would you come and look through it with me? I can’t get away.
No, Alex, don’t bring McNeal here. I am deadly serious!

Come as soon as possible. Thanks.

Monique rings off:

Anita enters.

ANITA: Bianca’s asleep.

Monique takes a tub of dip from her counter and a packet of biscuits.

Is that our lunch? What is it?

MONIQUE: Smoked salmon cream cheese on biscuits. Do you want some?


MONIQUE: I’ve got business guests coming. You’ll have to take this into your bedroom and watch a video until they go.

ANITA: What if I want some more lunch?

MONIQUE: You must just wait until I call you. Be a good girl. It’s very important. Can you put the video on yourself?

ANITA: Ye-es!

Exit Anita with a plate of lunch.


Scene 9

Light to Phyllis’s apartment.

Phyllis is sorting a kitchen drawer, picking out kitchen utensils to place on the table, a mallet, a rolling pin and a skewer.

Enter Ted?

TED: Hi, Mum! Why are you home?

PHYLLIS: Because — I am.

TED: You aren’t usually home at lunch time?

PHYLLIS: No, and neither are you.

TED: What’s up?

PHYLLIS: I’ve got a beastly headache. Why are you home?

Ted paces as he tries to think of a suitable explanation of the truth.

Ted, you’re wearing a hole. You’ll soon be down on the first floor.

TED: Mum, no one ever gave you a watch did they?


TED: They gave me one. (shows watch)

PHYLLIS: The pumping station? Have they made you redundant?

TED: No, not yet. You know your friend Camilla took a diamond bracelet and it ruined her life.

PHYLLIS: Ye-e-s?

TED: I’ve got into the same mess. A gink’s got to me now.

PHYLLIS: I knew he’d get to you! I just knew it!

TED: Do you know him, Mum?

PHYLLIS: Oh. Rufus mentioned that someone was hanging about.
— When he spoke to you, did he seem to know who you are?

TED: Yes, sure he did, straight off. He took me for some dumb stupid idiot straight off.

PHYLLIS: I see. Well, I won’t have it! (She walks to her table and holds up a kitchen knife) I am your mother and I will deal with him!

TED: Mum, I’m a man now, I’ve gotta fight my own battles now. (he picks up and brandishes a strong rolling pin) I’ve got to sort him out. Rufe is gonna help me.


they exit towards bathroom.

Scene 10

Light back to Monique’s.

Anita and Bianca are about to go out. Monique is agitated.

BIANCA: I take Anita out to play for half hour, Ma’am.

MONIQUE: Are you sure, dear?

ANITA: I’ll look after her.

BIANCA: I like to go out for a while, Ma’am.

MONIQUE: Just for half an hour.

Exit Bianca and Anita right.

Enter Gemma upstage, tipsy.

Monique beckons her in.

MONIQUE: Gemma, I asked you to come here hours ago!

GEMMA: It took a while. (jokey and laughing) I went to celebrate with Hector, had a drink or two!

MONIQUE: Hold steady. You've had a drink or three.

GEMMA: Monique, I’ve handed in my resignation to our Council. (hiccup). I’m going to fly away from here right away to Honolulu!

MONIQUE: You are not going with Hector McNeal I hope?

GEMMA: Oh yes, I am. Keep the door open. He’s on his way here.

MONIQUE: I don’t want him here!

Gemma totters around. Monique steadies her and sits her down.

Gemma, sit down before you fall down!

Enter Alex.

MONIQUE: Alex. You took your time.

ALEX: Sorry! We convened an emergency council meeting.

GEMMA: Then we went to celeb- (hiccup) brate with Hector.

MONIQUE: What was the Council meeting about?!

ALEX: Hector’s contract for the sludge plant. We got it through, all signed and sealed.

GEMMA: We paid out millions and millions of dollars in a huge crisis vote! The old plant is stinking to high heaven and Hector is leaving the country in a hurry for personal reasons.

MONIQUE: The vote was scheduled for tomorrow morning! Hector’s plant will take six years to build! He probably sabotaged the old plant! Besides which, I needed this paperwork this morning. Why didn’t you stop the meeting, or call me?

ALEX: I spoke up for you. I said you’d researched it fully and you’d sign it directly it was presented to you.

Alex gives a contract to Monique. She starts to read it.

And I gave your sincere apologies to the meeting.

Gemma gets up and totters.

GEMMA: Yes and so did I. And I’m in love; in love, in love.

Alex wants to take Gemma to sit but she doesn’t want to be taken.

ALEX: You’re drunk as a skunk. Sit down before you fall down!

MONIQUE: NO! Oh no! This is criminally wrong! This is not what I checked. He’s added four million per annum for servicing and the cost of spare parts is outrageous — and we’re bound to him for them!

And you’re both so bloody complacent!

Hector McNeal is probably cashing his fat Council deposit cheque right now.

A noise offstage. Alex looks outside.

ALEX: Speak of the devil. Here he comes now.


Cast freeze

Scene 11

Lights on Phyllis

Ted is sitting at the table.

Rufus, keeping low, slips in as though he is being followed

RUFUS: hisses…McNeal’s here! ‘e nearly caught me on yer landing. ‘e went in next door.
I’ve been waitin’ ages. You got the gloves?

TED: Not yet. I was talking to Mum, she’s home!

Phyllis comes from bathroom, towards Rufus.

RUFUS: Ah, howdy Phyllis.

PHYLLIS: It’s not a good time to visit. We’re in conference.

RUFUS: Oh, well, er, um, I got caught a bit short. I need to use yer lavvie or er, yer bathroom.

PHYLLIS: You want to use it now?

RUFUS: Now. I gotta go!

PHYLLIS: Very well then. It's this way.

Rufus winks and smiles confidentially to Ted.

Rufus exits to bathroom.

(Phyllis hisses to Ted) Hide the watch!

TED: I’ve already shown it to him. I thought I told you.
(confidentially) Rufus’s gonna help me.


Ted and Phyllis sit motionless in the gloom through the next scene.

Scene 12

Lights up on Monique’s area

Gemma is standing by McNeal downstage, Monique sits, Alex stands.

Gemma drapes herself on McNeal.

McNEAL: Give me space, Angel. I’ve got to travel in these clothes. You’re looking very queasy.

GEMMA: I feel queasy.

McNEAL: I’m almost done here. I’ve just called by to pick up my revised service contract. Is it signed?

MONIQUE: No! I haven’t signed it!

This is not what you showed me before. (Monique waves the servicing contract form at McNeal)
You’ve added four million a year for running costs!

McNeal leans over to Monique pointing at the document with a pen.

McNEAL: Your moniker’s needed just there. And I'm on an early flight out of here.

Monique doesn’t sign. Gemma goes back to join McNeal.

GEMMA: We’re flying away together to a beautiful paradise!

McNEAL: (he pushes Gemma off) Angel, I can’t take you with me. My dear little wife commands me to come home now.

GEMMA: But (hiccup) I took pity on you when no one loved you. I understood you because I’m an Angel!

McNEAL: Then you’ll understand this, Angel. I’m going to fly away alone, completely alone and all by myself.

GEMMA: You slime-ball! (swipes at him but misses, totters back and falls to be caught by Alex.)

McNEAL: A fallen angel — with a nasty temper! Not nice!

(McNeal turns to Monique) Sweetie, without your signature here the splendid multimillion dollar plant your Council’s just bought is doomed. And I have your Council’s . . .

McNeal takes a cheque from his top pocket and taunts them with it.

GEMMA: big fat deposit cheque

ALEX: for the plant

MONIQUE: right there in your hand!

McNeal feels outnumbered but he is a bold personality and tucks the cheque away again purposefully.

McNEAL: Tell you what — you can post that servicing section to me. I’ve got the best part of what I came for.

Monique and Gemma go upstage to fetch a kitchen knife and toasting fork.
McNeal turns to Alex who is right of him.

ALEX: But, Hector, our deal is still alright, isn’t it?

McNEAL: Alex, a word in your ear. My Head Office say they won’t need you to consult for us after all. Job’s gone elsewhere.

ALEX: But I’ve invested heavily in your company.

McNEAL: You did. You sold your lovely home to do it! Very rash! But, it’ll be back on the market at a fair price!

ALEX: Hector! I had your word on it. It was a done deal! We shook on it! You’re a bloody con-man!

McNEAL: It saddens me, but in this crazy world there are people whose word on a thing just doesn’t amount to a hill of beans! You learn not to shake hands with them.

ALEX: You can’t treat me like that and get away with it!

Alex goes to get a meat cleaver. Monique and Gemma move to the left of McNeal with their weapons. Alex returns to the right.

Bianca leaps onstage, holding a kitchen knife.

BIANCA: You! Pig! You insult me. Now I slit your throat!

Bianca lunges at Hector’s throat, knife in right hand. He catches her wrist with his right hand and lifts it upstage.

McNEAL: Whoa there! Whoa! If the party is over here, I think I should take my leave of you all very shortly.

He pulls Bianca’s wrist further upstage, drawing her towards him.

Pussycat, my taxi’s outside! In one minute I’m on my way.
You’d like a quick kiss, I think!

She hisses at him, pulls free and retreats.

ALL: We shall have to deal with him!

He exits with the others closing threateningly in behind him, armed with knives and toasting-forks and Anita with a sharp pencil. All exit.

Blackout as they exit

Scene 14

Light goes back to Phyllis

Ted and Phyllis are sitting at the table (Phyllis nearest bathroom) No time has passed.
Rufus enters from bathroom, stands in doorway.

He is busily hiding the yellow rubber gloves. They stick out of his pocket. He stands by the door and winks at Ted, indicating the gloves.

RUFUS: All sorted now, Phyllis. I’ll wait for Ted on the landing.

TED: I’m ready to get it done, Rufe. It’s man’s work!

Rufus is stopped by Phyllis, who neatly lifts the gloves from Rufus’s pocket.

PHYLLIS: Wait a minute. Aren’t these my rubber gloves?!

The men wait paralysed by her question, looking at each other.

SFX 11 — The phone rings

You both wait right there until I sort this out!

Phyllis answers the phone, puts the gloves on the table, and hastens upstage of Ted and Rufus, to face the audience between their heads.

Erin Page!

No, I didn’t get a message on my machine inviting me on a luxury cruise! It’s the first I’ve heard of it!

She looks at Ted and Rufus. They look very guilty.

I wonder if my son or his friend know anything about my being invited on a luxury cruise.

TED: Sorry! Gotta dash out, Mum!

Ted grabs the gloves, hides them from Phyllis but lets audience see them.

Rufus and Ted sneak out.

PHYLLIS: on phone, moving downstage:
Erin, I will come with you! I am definitely coming with you! How soon can we go?

What will I do about my son? I must stock the freezer with food for him and delete him from my memory for a while!

SFX 12 — Sound of McNeal’s voice saying: “Toodle-oo I’ll send you all a postcard.”

Erin, I hear someone outside that I must deal with!
I’ll speak to you again very soon.

Hastily puts down phone and grabs the rolling pin.

Phyllis runs to the door


SFX 13 — This time we can clearly hear the crashing of a scooter down a flight of stairs, with the thud of a body hitting concrete cutting short McNeal’s scream.


TED: Is he dead?

RUFUS: Yeah! Dead as a doorknob!

GEMMA: That beast! He got what he deserved!

BIANCA: He very bad man!

ALEX: But — who killed him?

Downstage Spotlight , as opening

Phyllis is revealed in the spot, just as when the curtains opened.

She addresses the audience.

PHYLLIS: That death was horrible. (indicates backstage) And now Ted and I have invited the neighbours in.

All lights up, both apartments

She moves upstage to the entrance.

Enter Gemma and Alex, they greet Phyllis and move downstage far right.

GEMMA: McNeal got what he deserved!

ALEX: (rubbing hands together) Exactly what he deserved!

Enter Ted and Bianca. They move down right talking as they walk.

TED: A girl alone abroad, you need a man of the world like me to look after you.

BIANCA: Yes, I like you do that, Ted, thank you.

Rufus enters and goes downstage, wearing the yellow gloves, and talks directly to the audience.

RUFUS: So, here’s what happened. I’d got me yella gloves on and Ted and me, we was lurkin’ outside neighbour’s door ’ere, waiting for McNeal to come out.

—Out the door he walks clear as midday. Puts ’is foot on a kid’s scooter and takes off like a bird. ’E flies arse-over-tip down three flights of bloody stairs. Time we get to ’im ’e’ was dead!

Inquest result: Accidental death by kid’s scooter.

And I ‘ear that the child in question is none too pleased either!

Monique and Anita enter with scooter. They go down left to talk.

Rufus indicates Monique and Anita’s entry, then moves upstage to fetch the flask.

MONIQUE: I don’t know how many times I’ve told you not to leave it on the landing.

ANITA: He’s broken it. He should pay for it.

Phyllis, with a white shirt and jacket over her arm, walks downstage.

Rufus comes to join her, still wearing the gloves and now carrying a glass flask of water. He lifts a corner of the jacket that Phyllis is holding.

RUFUS: And I just wancher to know that Phyllis and me are goin’ to the band concert the day before she goes orf on ’er fancy cruise! Meantime she’s givin’ me a make-over and himprovin’ me haiches!

He drops his hold on the jacket and continues, pointing to the glass flask.

And all’s well down at pumping station, me precious micro-bugs are back in good workin’ order. (nods and grins a lot) I knew you’d be pleased to h’ear that! (wink)

Rufus raises the glass flask of water.

So h’ere’s to yer good ’ealth all of yer!

He toasts audience with the water.


If there is a curtain call:

Cast separate to leave a space in the centre. (Rufus puts flask on table)

Monique, Anita, Phyllis, Rufus —— Ted, Bianca, Gemma, Alex

Curtain opens:

After a pause, McNeal enters on the scooter. He drops the scooter.
All join hands to bow.

Final curtain.

©REB, July 2006 (07) 4636 3800 McNeal-45.DOC 39