There is a long fade up from black. Midge and Dennis are back in their living room at home, but sitting in similar positions as when we left them in the prison. Dennis is back in his chair – his leg appears to be slightly smaller but still grossly inflated. He seems to be struggling with something, a look of pain or frustration on his face. Midge is bored, sitting at the table, with a pad of paper in front of her. They both sit silently for a long time.
MIDGE: I think I might take up smoking.
MIDGE: [Shocked] Oh, did I say that out loud? I was trying to think it.
DENNIS: I don’t think I want you to think it. And I don’t enjoy saying such a sentence, as complicated as it seems. Why would you do such a thing?
MIDGE: It might give me something to do with my hands. I never know what to do with them.
DENNIS: I think you’ve had ample practice with what to do with your hands.
MIDGE: Not again Dennis.
DENNIS: It needs to be said.
MIDGE: Dusty is incarcerated. The man upstairs is otherwise engaged. The man from the council turned out to be very homosexual. And Basil has gone. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be having an affair with.
DENNIS: There’s thousands of viable options.
MIDGE: But since your release I haven’t left this room.
DENNIS: That wouldn’t hinder you. How do you know?
MIDGE: Know what?
DENNIS: About the man from the council.
MIDGE: There was a pamphlet run up and passed around. Exposing him.
DENNIS: Why did he need to be exposed?
MIDGE: I’m really not sure. He seemed quite happy about it. It was that Mrs Palver at the shop.
DENNIS: Oh she’s always exposing people. She should be locked up. She exposed the gas man for being black.
MIDGE: I don’t know how she can afford it. The photocopying costs must be quite prohibitive.
DENNIS: The price she charges for a white sliced? Money is no object.
MIDGE: She likes you.
DENNIS: What do you mean?
MIDGE: Always asking after you. With a twinkle in her eye.
DENNIS: Good God. I don’t want to hear about her twinkle. She’s grotesque. What’s that thing on her face?
MIDGE: She calls it a beauty mark.
DENNIS: More like a question mark. It seems to have a mind of its own.
MIDGE: It does make it difficult to make a selection. Your eyes are drawn to it.
DENNIS: Where has Basil gone?
DENNIS: Basil. When you were running down your recent conquests, you said that Basil had gone.
MIDGE: He detonated himself on the steps of parliament.
DENNIS: I didn’t know parliament had any steps.
MIDGE: It doesn’t. He was actually on the steps of the gas showroom. It’s quite ornate.
DENNIS: Did he cause much damage?
MIDGE: Not a dent. I think one Aga got scolded. Basil was completely obliterated.
DENNIS: That’s it. That’s the one.
DENNIS: The word. The word I was after.
DENNIS: We were dictating. My life story. I couldn’t think of a word. But that was the one I was groping for. Obliterate.
MIDGE: That was days ago.
DENNIS: It will be worth the wait. Continue the dictation.
Midge wearily picks up a pen and addresses her pad.
DENNIS: [Dictating] And so I took it upon myself to obliterate the vestiges of…er…damn. What’s the word I want?
MIDGE: We’re never going to get to the end of this sentence.
DENNIS: I want it to be precise.
MIDGE: Shall I leave a blank?
DENNIS: No, I’d rather fill it in as we go along. You remember the problem we had with that children’s book I wrote.
MIDGE: Oh yes. That was nearly all blanks.
DENNIS: That publisher had a filthy mind. He paid no heed to the illustrations at all.
MIDGE: I think that’s where the problem lay.
DENNIS: What do you mean?
MIDGE: Well that train you drew. It was quite…phallic.
DENNIS: [Aghast] Midge!
MIDGE: I’m sorry, but you could see his point. If you have a page full of blanks accompanied by a drawing of a slightly phallic shaped train then certain conclusion would be drawn.
DENNIS: You’ve kept this quiet. Why didn’t you proffer these opinions at the time?
MIDGE: I did. Many times. Every time I mentioned it you put your hands over your ears and sang Danny Boy.
DENNIS: I can’t have you scuppering my creative flow with infantile suggestions. You’ve scuppered me again with this one. I was just reaching the finale of a lovely sentence and you’ve tipped me into some pointless off shoot.
MIDGE: Right, then what are you trying to say?
DENNIS: About what?
MIDGE: In the sentence you’re trying to complete. The word you’re after. Give me a hint of it.
DENNIS: Read it back to me.
MIDGE: [Reading] And so I took it upon myself…
DENNIS: [Interrupting] Add a bit of spice to it Midge. Speaking in that tone is hardly going to inspire me.
MIDGE: [Reading, louder] And so I took it upon myself…
DENNIS: [Interrupting] That’s just louder. Why don’t you try and add something of my personality.
Midge stares at Dennis with a certain amount of incredulity.
MIDGE: I don’t think I’m prepared to do that. Why don’t we have a break?
DENNIS: Very well.
Dennis tampers with is trouser leg.
MIDGE: Did they continue with your leg treatments in prison?
DENNIS: They used it as the hoist for my own particular petard if that’s what you mean.
MIDGE: I don’t think it was.
DENNIS: After poking it with his pipe for a number of weeks, the doctor finally decided to drain it. Or attempt to drain it I should say. But once they had inserted the device they found that whatever was inside had set.
DENNIS: Yes, hardened. It was once a liquid in there but it had congealed to the texture of wallpaper paste. The doctor was baffled. So their facilities were useless. My estimate was it was just another elaborate torture. They shipped some additional equipment over from Belmarsh, but I was released before it could be applied.
MIDGE: Quite a shame really.
DENNIS: How so?
MIDGE: You could have had it seen to. Was there no chance of having your release changed to undergo treatment?
DENNIS: How would I have masterminded that?
MIDGE: Perhaps you could have engineered a fight, or thrown some excrement at a screw. Then be sent to the hole for a period, thus extending your stay and allowing treatment to begin.
DENNIS: Your vision of prison life is very naïve Midge.
MIDGE: Just weighing up the pros and cons. Might have relieved it a bit.
DENNIS: It might have killed me. However it does seem to have gone down a bit. Something seeped out in the night.
MIDGE: Yes, I can see some creasing in that trouser.
DENNIS: Well you would be expert in that department.
MIDGE: I’m trying to offer sympathy Dennis. Don’t shun it.
DENNIS: [Shouting] Submersible.
MIDGE: I’m sorry?
DENNIS: The word I was striving for. It just reached me in a blinding moment of clarity. Submersible.
MIDGE: I don’t think it could be Dennis.
DENNIS: Who is the author here?
MIDGE: But it won’t fit.
DENNIS: I will be the judge of that. Apply it to the sentence and read it back to me.
MIDGE: And so I took it upon myself to obliterate the vestiges of… submersible.
DENNIS: Yes, the scanning is quite unusual. Let’s put that word aside for a moment. I think I was thinking of a much later sentence and how that word would be critical for that one. I do work on a variety of levels.
MIDGE: Perhaps you were thinking of Dusty.
DENNIS: Why would I be thinking of him?
MIDGE: Submersible. That’s something of a Dusty word. If you’d have said that in front of him you know what that would have started.
DENNIS: Yes, yes. He would have gone on about the salvaging man with the midget submarine featuring the crane type attachment. But Dusty isn’t here and I don’t care to be reminded.
MIDGE: I’m sure you don’t.
DENNIS: And what is that supposed to mean?
MIDGE: I just wonder if the word submersible hasn’t entered your consciousness due to the qualification of guilt.
DENNIS: Guilt? What’s that got to do with the price of peas?
MIDGE: Because you’re here at home and Dusty is still in prison.
DENNIS: He confessed to all crimes, allowing me to be freed.
MIDGE: Was he not coerced?
DENNIS: By who? Not me. I served most of my sentence in a wheelchair.
DENNIS: I was moved to a bed at night.
MIDGE: It sounded like you?
DENNIS: What did?
MIDGE: The confession. It certainly had a taste of you about it.
DENNIS: In what respect?
MIDGE: The personal attacks upon the Judge. The assault on the teaching of punctuation in comprehensives. The constant use of the word ‘ignoramus’. Didn’t sound very Dusty like. It didn’t mention coving once.
DENNIS: I helped him with the basic outline. It was my duty, I was in the cell with him and he was struggling.
MIDGE: I’d like to know who gave the idea initially.
DENNIS: I’m sure it all came from the man himself. He was quite conscious driven once you got passed the bald wife stories. Anyway it’s only Dusty. He’s better off being a martyr for the cause.
MIDGE: Is he?
DENNIS: Yes, I spent several long months being trapped in a cell with him. I surmised him to be perfect martyr material. As well as remarkably irritating.
MIDGE: That’s no reason to falsely imprison him.
DENNIS: He didn’t mind. I explained to him how it would be better for the cause if I were to be on the outside, free to pursue my various interests, while he served out the remainder of the sentence on my behalf.
MIDGE: For 118 years.
DENNIS: Yes, if you wish, for 118 years.
MIDGE: Rather than the six months.
DENNIS: Once the actions of the campaign are in full effect and complete we will secure his release.
MIDGE: What are the future actions of the campaign?
DENNIS: Well, once I’ve completed my life story, I feel the power of it will stir the masses into spontaneous civil disobedience.
MIDGE: But we’re only on the second sentence.
DENNIS: He’s in there for 118 years so there’s no need to rush. Besides, if we are deliberate then the energy of that sentence will bring the populous surging to our cause and secure the release of your beloved Dusty.
MIDGE: He was not my beloved Dennis. As you know, you were trapped in a cell with him. You know how he acts. You don’t know why you think I’d be philandering with him.
DENNIS: That’s another factor in why I’m hardly jettisoning fear at Dusty’s incarceration. It’s something of a public service. The man’s a menace.
MIDGE: Yet you’d have me frolicking with him at every turn.
DENNIS: I can’t speak for women and their qualms. [Archly] You were menopausal remember?
MIDGE: That wasn’t my idea Dennis as you’ve been told. It was contrived by my counsel.
DENNIS: I’m bound to think you had some hand in it Midge. He seemed to have a substantial grasp on womanly…matters. I doubt he came to that by his own accord.
MIDGE: He had many strings to his bow. I contributed nothing.
DENNIS: He was certainly a slippery one. What was his name again? It was some funny thing?
MIDGE: Yes, like Happer…Happer Hopper. Or Happer…naps.
DENNIS: I thought it was something closer to Tapper whatsit. Tapperparts?
MIDGE: Or Happertapper?
Both of them laugh at this.
DENNIS: Or Tapper-Hopper?
They both giggle some more.
MIDGE: Oh dear. He was a one.
DENNIS: Why did he carry that stuffed owl around with him?
MIDGE: I’ve no idea. I think it was some kind of mascot.
DENNIS: Well it worked. He was better than my one. Mr Wise. Now there was a misleading misnomer. He claimed to have some kind of military background. But when I tested him on the assembly of a Bren gun, he completely fell apart.
MIDGE: At least he could speak. Unlike Dusty’s.
They both begin to laugh again.
DENNIS: [Giggling] Oh my God. Was he there on some kind of initiative scheme or something? I’m quite happy for those with speech impediments to be given employment in the wider community. But he failed to complete a successful sentence during the entire trial. I’ve never known an occasion for a summing up to be abandoned on account of time. It was painful as well as amusing.
MIDGE: It certainly provided some comic relief.
DENNIS: Yes, but there’s a time and a place for levity.
MIDGE: Dusty appeared to enjoy it.
DENNIS: He’d enjoy anything.
There is a long pause.
MIDGE: The vicar came around earlier.
DENNIS: What vicar?
MIDGE: The local vicar.
DENNIS: I didn’t realise we had a local vicar.
MIDGE: He’s a new one.
DENNIS: Where was I?
MIDGE: You had dropped off. It was after you’d eaten that paella.
DENNIS: Oh is that what it was? I had been wondering.
MIDGE: It’s a new range. ‘The taste of Central Europe’.
DENNIS: Spain isn’t Central Europe.
MIDGE: I didn’t say it was.
DENNIS: But paella. That’s a Spanish dish. So why does it fall within that range?
MIDGE: Is paella Spanish?
DENNIS: It’s their signature cuisine. They’re really pushing the boundaries with that one.
MIDGE: That’s probably why it was so cheap.
DENNIS: What did he want?
DENNIS: The vicar.
MIDGE: Just a general introduction. Since the Close was opened out the diocese catchment area has shifted. Now we’re part of his flock apparently.
DENNIS: I thought they’d re-sealed the Close.
MIDGE: It’s been re-opened since interest in you died away.
DENNIS: Charming. Our rates are going to skyrocket, all this opening and closing of the Close.
MIDGE: Apparently they’re funded by private sponsorship. A secret, generous benefactor.
DENNIS: So this religious type. Why did he single us out?
MIDGE: He’d been following the case in the local paper. He thought you might be willing for some spiritual buoyancy.
DENNIS: Cheeky young scamp. The second they think you’re life’s in the toilet, the come sniffing around after your immortal soul. Where was he when I needed that wardrobe shifted? Hiding in the vestry I presume.
MIDGE: I told him to pop back when you were awake.
DENNIS: How’s he going to know if I’m awake?
MIDGE: Perhaps he can use his religious intuition.
There is a sudden thunderous pounding on the door.
DENNIS: That’s probably him. I refuse to answer.
MIDGE: No, he said he wouldn’t be back today. He had a coffee morning to assemble.
DENNIS: Then who could it possibly be?
There’s more pounding on the door.
MIDGE: I’m not expecting anyone.
DENNIS: Well I don’t know the sort of person who would mal-treat a door like that. Listen to the way he’s dealing with it.
They pound again.
MIDGE: How do you know it’s a he?
DENNIS: I’m assuming there was some fornicational timetable constructed while I was away and this is one of your regular philanderers making his specified appointment.
MIDGE: No such thing occurred Dennis.
DENNIS: I wouldn’t expect you to admit it.
MIDGE: It could be a salesman.
The pounding happens again.
DENNIS: Who, or whatever, is getting quite emotive. I’m not tackling that level of hysteria on the doorstep. Go and handle it Midge.
Midge sighs and stands up. She exits.
DENNIS: Wasn’t there a bell on that door? I’m sure there was a bell affixed when we moved in. Had a pleasant tone, sort of a tinkling declension. Made a visiting stranger a charming distraction. Probably been had away by one of those crime tourists. Wanted a souvenir for his sinister collection.
Midge returns, looking shocked and horrified.
DENNIS: Was it a salesman?
Midge shakes her head.
DENNIS: Oh no, is it the police?
She shakes her head again.
DENNIS: God, it’s not Jehovah’s is it?
MIDGE: It’s worse.
DENNIS: Worse? How could it possibly be?
MIDGE: Its Dusty.
Dusty bustles in. He looks like his old self but is covered in grime. He takes a seat at the table and immediately looks up at the ceiling.
DUSTY: Ah, now that’s what I call a bit of coving. Lovely to see it. I’ve missed that I really have.
Both Dennis and Midge are silent in slack-jawed shock.
DENNIS: How can it possibly be?
MIDGE: I can’t conceive. Perhaps he’s a ghost.
DENNIS: He doesn’t smell like a ghost.
MIDGE: Are you aware of how a ghost smells?
DENNIS: Not like toilets Midge. Unless he’s a dirty ghost.
MIDGE: Dusty may well be a dirty ghost.
DENNIS: I’ll grant you that.
DUSTY: Having a chat are you? A lovely wee chat? A had a pal who enjoyed something of a chat. They called him Chatty due to his condition. Lived up Bury way…
DENNIS: I can’t believe he’d be doing that in the after-life.
DENNIS: You’d think that affliction would be lifted from him in death.
MIDGE: Unless he’s here to torment us. And teach us a lesson. Like in that musical.
DENNIS: What musical? How am I supposed to understand you if you use musicals as a reference point?
MIDGE: The musical about the mean man who is plagued by ghosts and then he buys a goose at the end.
DENNIS: I think you’ll find that’s A Christmas Story by William Shakespeare and not a musical at all.
MIDGE: Either way, he could be here to aggravate us.
DENNIS: That goes without saying. It is Dusty after all.
DUSTY: Could chat for England he could. He did chat for England in fact. There was some kind of championship which Chatty competed. But there was a poor turnout and it didn’t really catch the public’s imagination.
DENNIS: One would hope there’d be a certain amount of grace in our passings. He appears to be exactly the same.
MIDGE: Is there some kind of test that can be made? To ascertain if he is of the spirit world?
DENNIS: Kick him in the shins.
Midge kicks Dusty swiftly in the shins.
DUSTY: Ow. Jesus.
DENNIS: He appears to be one of us.
MIDGE: What’s he doing here?
DENNIS: I think I know. He’s been down that hole.
Dusty looks a bit guilty.
MIDGE: Hole? What hole?
DENNIS: Did you go down that hole Dusty? Even though I expressly forbid it?
DUSTY: Holes are they? I was a married man once. The wife had a great fascination with holes…
DENNIS: No, no, no. Don’t try to disguise you guilt within one of impenetrable riddles. I can tell from your mottled clothing you’ve been down some kind of hole.
MIDGE: [Exasperated] What hole?
DENNIS: Our cell contained a hole, which Dusty has obviously been abusing for his own ends.
DUSTY: I was just having a lovely run round. I couldn’t help it. The urge took hold of me.
DENNIS: Are you claiming that you fell into the hole innocently?
DUSTY: That was something of it.
DENNIS: I told you not to run round and not to enter that hole.
DUSTY: I thought perhaps there was a time limit on your instruction.
DENNIS: As if I’d apply such a thing. If there were to be a time limit I would have specified it. It was a blanket ban.
MIDGE: Why did you come here?
DUSTY: I always did like to look at your ceiling.
DENNIS: They’ll be after him. They’re sure to come here.
MIDGE: What should we do Dennis?
DENNIS: We must obscure him in some way.
DUSTY: Would you have a hanky or some such? I’ve swallowed quite a lot of soil.
DENNIS: Did you eat your way out?
DENNIS: How did you get from the prison to here? It’s over three hundred miles?
DUSTY: I rambled. I was something of a rambler in my youth. It was how I met the woman I subsequently married. We both rambled and then one day we rambled into one another and wed soon after. She had her hair then of course.
MIDGE: How did you eat?
DUSTY: I gathered berries and edible mosses. An old rambling trick.
DENNIS: Are you sure they didn’t let you escape? [To Midge] It is quite possible they simply let him escape.
MIDGE: How do you mean?
DENNIS: He hardly endeared himself to the authorities as you can imagine. The guards were often discussing how to remove him in some way. Having him transferred or possibly paroled. Once the extension to his sentence was announced I can imagine they turned a blind eye to his obsession with the hole. They could have even aided his departure.
MIDGE: So perhaps they aren’t pursuing him?
DENNIS: I would imagine they would have to apply a façade of pursuit. Even if they don’t try too hard.
MIDGE: I suppose it doesn’t reflect well on them if they allow a prisoner to flee and then take no action.
DENNIS: It could certainly be considered a little negligent.
MIDGE: [Under her breath] Do you think there could be a reward if we alerted someone to his whereabouts?
DENNIS: It’s a thought. But it might look a bit fishy Midge. His former cell-mate and his former lover betraying him.
MIDGE: Please don’t refer to me as his former lover.
DENNIS: Either way it would be easy to assume that we aided and abetted the miscreant.
MIDGE: [Resigned] Oh dear. Its been like this since Christmas.
DENNIS: What’s Christmas go to do with anything?
MIDGE: I smashed that box of baubles.
MIDGE: It just seemed to have turned my luck.
DENNIS: What hocus-pocus Midge. I don’t like dallying with superstition. It’s akin to fraud.
MIDGE: It’s just coincidental.
DENNIS: And since when have baubles been a totem of luck. Surely you’re thinking of mirrors?
MIDGE: They have reflective surfaces. It could be far worse in way of misfortune.
DENNIS: I don’t like this line of reasoning Midge. And its derailing us about the situation with Dusty.
DUSTY: [Snapping to] What?
MIDGE: I’m not quite sure of the protocol.
DENNIS: How do you mean?
MIDGE: Should I offer him a cup of tea? Under the circumstances?
DUSTY: Oh yes, a cup of tea would set me up a treat.
DENNIS: I think there are very few circumstances where a cup of tea, in an English household, would be beyond the pale. That would be a very cruel state of affairs. Perhaps if an assault was being undertaken or if you were dealing with the Dutch.
MIDGE: Right, then I’ll put the kettle on.
DUSTY: [Shouting after her] Oh and a biscuit if you could stretch so far. I have been in a position where such privileges were denied to me.
DENNIS: That’s a damn lie Dusty and you know it. We had biscuits regularly in prison. Very poor biscuits I grant you. Dry and institutional. But recognisable as biscuits all the same.
DUSTY: Oh yes. Forgive me sir. I had forgotten.
DENNIS: I hope you’re not going to use your recent incarceration to agitate sympathy form the uninitiated.
DUSTY: Oh no sir. I’d never be the sort of person to do that.
DENNIS: It would be a lowly soul to stoop to such tactics.
DUSTY: It never crossed my mind. I promise.
DENNIS: I think we need to address your plans Dusty. You can’t stay here, it isn’t safe for any of us. What do you propose to do next?
DUSTY: In regards to what sir?
DENNIS: Well, not to be blunt, but you are an escaped convict and are, in common parlance, on the run.
DUSTY: That may be so.
DENNIS: So you should probably be considering what steps to take next.
DUSTY: I was hoping for some tea and biscuits.
DENNIS: Beyond the tea and biscuits Dusty. What then?
DUSTY: I may need to go to the toilet.
DENNIS: Dusty, I do not care to hear that. I’m only glad Midge is out of the room.
MIDGE: [Off-stage] Oh no I heard him quite clearly.
DENNIS: Now see what you’ve done. In avoiding the wider picture you’ve mentioned toilets in earshot of my wife.
DUSTY: Wife you say…
DENNIS: Oh dear.
DUSTY: I was once wed to a woman on a nameless Channel Island. Things were fine until one day she appeared completely shorn of hair. Something to do with the conflict in Korea she claimed. Many considered it a cry for help.
DENNIS: And would she be happy hearing about toilets in such a flagrant manner?
DUSTY: Oh yes, she was quite open-minded. She was a sandal wearer.
DENNIS: I can just picture it.
DUSTY: Very fond of the land.
DENNIS: Perhaps it would be preferable for you to stay with her.
DENNIS: Your bald, Guernsey-bound ex-wife. She could conceal you amongst her bountiful collection of sandals.
DUSTY: Oh dear no. She died many years ago.
DENNIS: She did? How did that occur?
DUSTY: It was a crime of passion. I discovered her lying down in congress with a man of questionable heritage.
DENNIS: Good Lord. You killed her?
DUSTY: I’m afraid so. With a shovel.
DENNIS: Him too?
DUSTY: Yes indeed. With a hoe.
DENNIS: You changed implements between victims?
DUSTY: That’s what I was told. It’s all a bit of a blur.
DENNIS: Were you punished for this crime?
DUSTY: I took a fine. They are more understanding of these matters on the Channel Islands. It’s their Gallic slant.
DENNIS: I see.
DUSTY: Plus the man involved was considered some kind of evil troll or warlock.
DUSTY: That again is a symptom of the Islands.
DENNIS: Let’s move on shall we. If you’re wife has been despatched, what about your friend Chatty?
DUSTY: Oh, I had a friend called Chatty. He lived in the Bury area…
DENNIS: I know. That’s who I am talking about.
DUSTY: Oh that brings to mind a friend of mine by the name of Chatty. Down Bury way…
DENNIS: [Angry] I know, I know. That’s who I am referring to. Can’t you go and stay with him down Bury way?
DUSTY: Bury you say?
DENNIS: Oh God.
DUSTY: Bury is the hometown of a decent pal of mine who goes by the moniker of Chatty. It is applied to him due to his comprehensive chatting abilities….
DENNIS: [Exasperated] Dusty, please, try to hold on to this thought for longer than an eighth of a second. Right?
DUSTY: I will try.
DENNIS: Are you ready?
DENNIS: You have a friend in Bury called Chatty, agreed?
DUSTY: I have a friend in Bury called Chatty, yes.
DENNIS: Can you travel to Bury and stay with your friend Chatty their immediately after your imminent tea and biscuits?
DUSTY [After a pause] That’s the exact same thing my old wife used to say to me….
DENNIS: [Defeated] Good Christ…
DUSTY: Can’t you piss off up to Bury and stay with your pal Chatty that you’re constantly going on about, she used to say.
Dennis sits silently with his head in his hands. Midge returns with a tray of tea cups and places them on the table in front of Dusty.
MIDGE: Perhaps you could stay with your friend Chatty Dusty?
DUSTY: Oh, I had a friend called Chatty myself….
DENNIS: We’ve been over this quite thoroughly Midge.
MIDGE: How about his bald wife in the Channel Islands?
DENNIS: No good. He killed her.
MIDGE: You wouldn’t think he had it in him would you.
Suddenly an announcement, the same as the ones made in the prison, booms out into the living room.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Ladies and gentleman. The first floor bathroom is now free. You are advised to leave it vacant for a short period of time before it will return to optimum sanitary condition. That is all.
Dennis gives Midge a dirty look.
DENNIS: Of all the lodgers to pick Midge.
MIDGE: He’s paid his deposit. There’s nothing we can do.
DUSTY: I was once married to a woman who took to taking in lodgers. She ran a small hotel on a coastal town in the Channel Islands. It was these lodgers, plus the loss of her hair, which first created friction in the relationship…
DENNIS: Do we have a sheet handy?
MIDGE: There’s one just been washed over there. Why?
DENNIS: Just toss it over him. It will keep him quiet.
DENNIS: It was something I resorted to in prison. He’s a little like a budgie. The darkness will keep him still.
MIDGE: But he’s got his tea and he looks so happy.
DENNIS: He’ll continue to enjoy it under the sheet, I can promise you.
MIDGE: If you’re sure.
Midge crosses the room and takes a sheet.
DUSTY: I had a friend who worked in the salvaging business…
Midge tosses the sheet over him and Dusty suddenly falls silent.
MIDGE: Oh yes. That’s quite an effective method.
DENNIS: You’ll have to wash the sheet again obviously.
MIDGE: Yes of course.
DENNIS: I wonder what we should do next?
MIDGE: Lets weigh up our options.
DENNIS: That’s very good Midge. Very practical. It seems you are learning.
MIDGE: Thank you.
DENNIS: Well, the main problem is Dusty here, who is a known convict and probably being pursued by various authorities.
DENNIS: So we need to get rid of him as covertly as possible.
MIDGE: Oh yes, I like that, covertly.
DENNIS: Thank you. I think everything else will have to wait until he’s dealt with. We should probably move quickly as the net will be closing in.
MIDGE: Is this a metaphorical net, or a real one?
DENNIS: It could be both Midge. That’s why we need to get our skates on.
MIDGE: So what shall we do?
DENNIS: Well, I would have thought about bumping him off, until I heard about him murdering two people with garden tools.
MIDGE: And there’s your leg…
DENNIS: I was assuming you would do the brunt of the work. As I’m incapacitated.
MIDGE: I couldn’t do that sort of thing.
DENNIS: You’ve killed hundreds of people.
MIDGE: Yes, but at a distance. Not face to face like that. In cold blood.
DENNIS: The point is moot at any rate as we shall not investigate that particular avenue.
MIDGE: Should we sleep on it?
DENNIS: I’m not sure we can? The sharks could be circling as we speak.
There’s a sudden, loud noise off-stage.
MIDGE: [Scared] What was that?
DENNIS: [Scared] Oh God could that be them?
MIDGE: Should we surrender?
DENNIS: You surrender. I’ll wait here.
There is a banging of a door and then the heavy footsteps of the man upstairs as he stomps towards his own flat.
MIDGE: Oh goodness. Its just him upstairs.
DENNIS: That’s the first time I’ve been pleased to hear him.
The rhythmic grunts of his sexual congress starts almost immediately.
DENNIS: Yes, there he goes. What a relief.
DUSTY: [Under sheet] What?
DENNIS: What’s set him off?
MIDGE: I’ve no clue?
DUSTY: [Under sheet] What?
DENNIS: Do we have another sheet?
MIDGE: In the airing cupboard.
DENNIS: Might be worth the trip.
There is a sudden rhythmic pounding on the front door.
DENNIS: Oh no!
The pounding happens again.
There is more pounding.
The sexual grunts of the man upstairs mingle with the rhythmic pounding at the front door and the cries of Midge and Dusty to form a weird, hypnotic backbeat.
As the noise increases and a sensation of hysteria grips the character, Dennis, wild-eyed, slowly begins to rise from his chair.
Dennis, with difficulty, stands upright as the rhythm continues, producing a weird sort of music. Dennis staggers over to the corner of the room and picks up and acoustic guitar. He then walks to the centre of the stage.
DENNIS: Let’s sing another song boys. This one has grown old and bitter.
He starts to play the guitar, along with the rhythm of everything around him. He then begins to sing the song ‘Let’s Sing Another Song Boys’ by Leonard Cohen, which is quite a roaring, rip-roaring number with a building, quite stirring conclusion. Dennis sings the verses of the song, while Dusty frees himself from the sheet and Midge also stands and joins in the chorus and the finale. The Guard, the Announcer and a chorus of unknown people dressed as policemen also walk out onto the stage and join in. The conclusion of the song is also the conclusion of the play.