SCENE 1Mature

Amelia's house.

In the living room, Richard is stretched out on the sofa. He's been in the same clothes for a week. Maude, his wife, sits on the adjacent chair, smoking and looking very annoyed.

Amelia stands in the kitchen with a mug of coffee. She is fairly used to this kind of argument.

Maude: No, I will not fetch it. You moan about your so-called disability all thetime... You'd think you were in a wheelchair.

Richard: My own wife won't pass me the remote control.

Maude: I'm not your carer, Richard.

Richard: 'In sickness and in health...'

Maude: Oh for God's sake! If I hear you recite our marriage vows one more time I'll... I'll... I don't know what I'll do!

Richard: Seems to be your thing.

Maude: What? (pause) WHAT?

Richard: Well you never actually do anything.

Maude: Sometimes Richard, I swear to God, I don't know why I married you.

Richard: You proposed to me!

Maude: Well I wish I hadn't! Believe it or not, I don't enjoy the prospect of looking after a drunken old idiot for the rest of-

Richard: I'm not drunk!

Maude: Stop interrupting me!

Richard: If I never interrupted you I'd never talk at all! You've been screaming at me for three days straight.

(Their argument gets more animated)

Maude: How dare you! You vomited over my grandmother's cat quilt! It's worth a fortune and you know it's worth a fortune, and the sentimental value is beyond-

Richard: Oh, shut up. Ever since the inheritance you've been obsessed with money, haven't you?

Maude: Excuse me!

Richard: And because you didn't look after me when I was ill-

Maude: Drunk you mean.

Richard: I was practically suicidal. You saw me, Maude. I was crawling on the floor and all I needed was a dark room and a kind word from somebody. And then you lose one manky old duvet and you take it all out on me!

Maude: Manky old duvet?!

(Amelia slams her coffee mug down deliberately on the kitchen counter. She folds her arms.)

Richard: And then you take it out on your husband. All I've been thinking the last few days is how one of us will have to go soon if thingsh don't improve.

Maude: Oh, I bet you'd like to get rid of me, wouldn't you?

Richard: Can't you shummon up the least bit of shympathy?

Maude: No, not when you're slurring your words.

Richard: I'm not shlurring my wordsh.

Maude: Well come on then. How many have you had?

Richard: You stony bitch. You hag! 

Maude: Stop acting the victim! I want you to apologise properly for what you did to the cat quilt. That's all she left me, you know, apart from the measly thousand. And how much did you get, eh? (pause) And how much of it have you squandered on drink?

Richard: Oh, the old girl didn't like us much, so what? And I can spend what I got on whatever I damn well choose!

Maude: This isn't about the money! It's about the only gift I had from my grandmother! You ruined that quilt when you were pissed and all you've done since then is lie there feeling sorry for yourself!

(Amelia shuts the door between the kitchen and the living room. All we hear are muffled exclamations from the other room as Amelia picks up a nearby phone and dials a number.)

Amelia: Come on. ... Hello! ... How are you? ... Really? ... Oh, I'm sorry. Still, you've got the other interview, haven't you? ... And I'll tell you what, I did see something in the paper the other day. ... Yeah, it's a delivery thing. ... Yeah, I think they provide the car. You just need to be able to drive, I think. ... (laughs) ... Yeah, I know. ... I've got the paper here, you can look at it next time you visit... if Dad hasn't used it to line the cat's basket or something. ... OK. Anything else happen to you today? ... Uh-huh. ... I haven't seen that one. ... Is it good? ... Uh-huh. ... Uh-huh...

Maude: (muffled) How dare you!

Amelia: Yeah, I might get that if I see it. ... Cool. Well, there's a friend I just need to call. ... See you soon, little brother. ... (laughs) ... OK. Have a good day. Bye!

( She hangs up, then dials another number)

Amelia: Hello? ... Hello? ... It's Amelia. Is that Will? ... Oh sorry. Could you pass him on? Thanks. ... Will, hello. ... Fine thanks, you? ... Good. Listen, I need to get out of the house, parents are having problems. ... Yeah, I know. I was wondering if you weren't doing anything we could go to the Goat's Head? ... Or wherever really, just as long as I'm out of here, to be honest. ... I don't mind, as long as you're there. ... (laughs feebly) ... Yeah, OK. See you in about twenty minutes then? ... OK. ... Oh great! ... Bring it along, maybe I can read the next few chapters. ... Are you joking, my critique is the most valuable you could possibly find! ... (laughs) ... Alright, well bring it anyway. ... See you soon. ... Bye. (hangs up again)

Richard: All I want to do is watch the TV!

Maude: Then get up and get the remote!

Richard: Excuse me, it's not such a massive favour to ask, is it?

Amelia: Mum, Dad! I'm going out!

Maude: Oh! Um... there's money on the side, get some dinner for later, something you can cook.

Richard: Get brandy too, sweetheart.

Maude: You will NOT send your only daughter out to get your booze!

Richard: I won't sleep if I don't have something?

Maude: Get the bloody stuff yourself then!

(Amelia exits.)

Richard: Why shouldn't I ask her? She's old enough to make her own mind up, and if she didn't want to do it, she'd tell me? She's my girl, alright?

Maude: She's to scared to do anything else!

Richard: Rubbish!

Maude: It's not rubbish! You don't seem to realise how much of a burden you can be. in your head you must be the most suave chap in the whole of Britain but I'm afraid that isn't the case!

Richard: I'm depressed, Maude! Look at me. Does this look like the sort of man who can think as far ahead as thinking what to get for dinner?

Maude: You can think as far as your next drink.

Richard: Don't attack me like this.

(Outside there is the screech of tires and a crash.)

Maude: Oh yes, because you're just so fragile. You're such a fragile creature, Richard, and really so likeable for it.

Amelia: (offstage, faint) Shit!

Richard: I'm glad you said that, because I was just about to say what a really soft and compassionate woman you are, Maudeline Darylyn. You care so much about the wellbeing of others, it defies belief. (pause) Go and see what the hell that noise was, would you?


The End

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