Tim Marks
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"We were particularly impressed by the vivid world of the play and by [the] characterization and dialogue."


"What separates us from these people is our ability to act in a civilized manner."

 

locating the plant | pearldivers | eve's barette | the judas ballot | the cleric | the naz

the english crew | the tradition

An Excerpt from Pearldivers, by Tim Marks

© 1994 Tim Marks. All rights reserved.

Act II, Scene Three

(Brucie pounds on the door.)

Brucie (outside)

Oi, Hurry up. Come on, let me in quick!

(Spiv lets him in. Brucie continues.)

Brucie

I though I should let you know...

(Terry enters and interrupts Brucie.)

Terry

He's dead all right.

Brucie

Who's dead?

Terry

The Professor. Looks like he topped himself with pills.

Brucie

What?! Is he here? When did this happen? He was okay when I left her yesterday, for God's sake!

Terry

He was alright in the pub - quiet. He always gets like that - I suppose I should say got like that. He wasn't performing. He left the boozer about half an hour before us. Said he was going to get a fish supper. He seemed fine.

Brucie

Is he stiff yet?

Terry

How the fuck would I know, he's just lying there. Any idea what we can do with him?

Brucie

Yeah, call the Old Bill.

Ally and Terry (together)

No Old Bill!!

Brucie

Why not? If he topped himself, it's down to him. They can't blame you for that. What else you going to do with him? What, just leave him outside like rubbish? You can't do that!

Ronny

I agree. He was a good bloody mate. You just can't leave him out on the street. No man deserves that, especially not somebody you've known for years.

Ally

I don't want the law in here for any reason. Christ! I've got a shitload of sheepskins upstairs. You think if we let them in they ain't going to go snooping around the place?

Ronny

Let's just call an ambulance, then say he's ill.

Terry

Okay, and what happens when they figure out he has been dead most of the night?

Ronny

We can say we only just found him. Surely the ambulance will just take him away? If we can hide the pill bottles, they might think it was a heart attack. I doubt they'd give a shit what he died of!

Terry

Say they do a post-mortem and find two bottles of Valium inside him. Do you not think they might decide to start asking a few questions? Look, I like the Prof as much as anyone, but this is going to cause a lot of aggro. Once the Old Bill start focusing on us it won't be long before we find ourselves out on the street. Like it or not, we have got to get him out of this flat, and quickly!

Ronny

Is the bloody flat all that matters to you? He was a mucker of mine. Christ, we did time together! This man would give you his last smoke. Where's your loyalty?

Ally

Where was his? I couldn't give a shit about the Professor...

Ronny

That's no surprise...

Ally

But he always had pills with him. He could have done himself in the boozer, on the way to the chipper - but no, he has to do it in the comfort of his own bed. He was anything but daft. He knew the trouble he was going to cause. He was so loyal to you lot, he dropped you this far in the shit. What loyalty do you owe a man like that?

Ronny

You better hope you don't die while I'm around. You're nothing but a fucking animal!

Ally

You going to start on me, too?

Brucie

Now ain't the time for any of this. If you ain't going to call three nines, we best work out what we are going to do. I don't know if rigor mortis is going to set in. If that happens, we can't move him until it wears off. I don't know how long that takes, but I think it might be a couple of hours.

Ally

Spiv, go and see if your man is stiff.

Spiv

Fuck off! I ain't going back up there!

Ally

Are you talking to me?

Spiv

Yeah. I don't care what you do. I ain't going near that body.

Ally

You and I are going to have a little talk later on.

Ronny

From what I can see, your dance card's pretty full.

Ally

There's not one of you lot bother me.

Brucie

Well, that's great! Now, can we deal with this?!

Ally

What do you want to get involved for? You don't stay here. It's not your problem.

Brucie

Yeah it is. I knew Jimmy longer than any of you. We were kids together. Whatever he's done, he don't deserve to be slung out on the street.

Spiv

Was Jimmy his name?

Brucie

What do you think? His mum called him "Professor"? Do you know how he got that name? He used to be called "Jimmy the Poof" 'cos he looked like a fairy, and he hated it! So to prove he's a real man, he gets into a fight in a boozer with this big Liverpool bastard. The geezer is beating the shit out of Jimmy, so he grabs a glass and does him in the face - almost blinded the poor bastard. He got eighteen months in Pentonville. He started teaching some of the hard men how to read. It was a way for him to earn smokes, also it was a way of protecting himself from rapists. While he was in there he lost his Cockney accent and started to act like Olivier. He put on that snobby accent, studied Art and stuff. When he got out, the Professor was born. I don't think there's anyone who remembers he was Jimmy the Poof. After that he started boosting stuff up West. Did you know he was married? He wanted to cure himself - married some Welsh bird. He's got a son, too.

Ronny

They in Wales still?

Brucie

Yeah, I think so. But they ain't seen him in ages - probably forgot he exists.

Ally

Existed!

Brucie

Yeah, right. So we got to figure some way to get him out of here. I think we should take him to the Emergency Room and leave him there. We got to do something!

Terry

Look, he'd understand us doing whatever is best. If we start trying to move him all over the place, we're a million to get captured. We got to do this as simple as possible. Trying to drag him to the hospital just increase the chances of us getting nicked. We got to do something quick, before the body starts to stink.

Spiv

Yeah, man. I don't want him stinking up my room. Let's just take him somewhere and call the Old Bill anonymously.

Ronny

You're all going on like leaving him on the steps is the end of the problem. Everybody and their mother knew the Professor - including the law. They also know he lived here. We have nothing to gain by leaving him outside. Sooner or later, they are coming to this door. I suggest we control when they come ourselves!

Ally

We can't do that.

Ronny

Listen a minute, will you? If they find his body has been moved all over the placed, they are going to wonder why. Ally, how long before you can get your gear moved?

Ally

I don't know - depends on Barney. But I don't want to move it in daylight.

Terry

If you hadn't brought it here, we wouldn't be in the shit right now.

Ally

Where do you get that from? Even without my gear here you don't want the filth coming in. You're scare they're going to take your precious kip away from you.

Ronny

Are you two going to start again? Jesus, can we just deal with one thing at a time? Spiv, how's that tea coming?

Spiv

I forgot to put the kettle on. I'll do it in a minute.

Ronny

Why don't you wait until Ally gets his gear out and then call the Old Bill. We got nothing to hide for Christ's sake!

Terry

No way, man. They find out he topped himself, they're going to think we're all doing drugs. That's all they need to get us out. Why take that chance?

Ronny

We don't have a choice. Sooner or later they're going to come after us. Sometimes living like this is worse than being Inside.

Terry

What're you on about? There's nothing worse than being Inside! We've a roof over our heads and we're free to come and go as we please!

Ronny

"Free to come and go as we please"... where do you get that from? We live in almost perpetual fear - fear of the Housing, fear of the Law, fear of the Electric. Every time I ring the lights I'm shitting myself in case it goes wrong and I end up dead. They totally control us, you know that? They don't need to police us - we do that ourselves with fear.

Ally

Nobody controls me. I'm not afraid of anything.

Terry

Oh, yeah! Is that why you sent that poor daft bastard in to do your thieving while you stay outside?

Ally (to Spiv)

You been running your mouth, little boy?

Spiv

I never said a word, honest!

Ally

For your information, Terry, I stayed outside 'cos I had to do the alarm. Without me there wouldn't have been a job. Ain't that right, Spiv?

Spiv

I guess so...

Ally

What d'you mean, "I guess so"? Am I missing something here?

Spiv

I was just wondering why I wasn't there when you opened the safe.

Ally

What?! You know why - you said you wanted to be back for work.

Spiv

Why didn't we open it in the van?

Ally

'Cos we were in a hurry to meet the fence. You're getting very brave here, boy. You think your mates are going to gang up on me, is that it?

Spiv

No! I just want to know what's happening, is all. One minute you treat me like I'm your pal - the next you act like I'm a dog. I'm not going to do any more jobs with you, Ally.

Ally

You poor little man. Nobody loves you. Jesus, sing another song. I treat you like what you are - a useless little coward. You'd sell us all for a bottle of scotch and a couple of pills. Don't worry, pal, I'll not be asking you to do any more thieving with me. Now I'm giving you fair warning - stay out of my way, 'cos if you pass in front of me, I'll give you the slap you deserve.

Spiv

What about my money from last night?

Ally

I told you - you will get your cut when I get it. Now let it be before I give you a real hiding.

Spiv

What about those people on the Island? Am I getting my share from that?!

Ronny

What people?!

Spiv

I gave Ally the names of all the people Billy's...

Ally

Shut up, Spiv! Ronny, what I do is my business. Now, I don't interfere in yours, so don't interfere in mine.

Terry

You're going to rip off Billy's customers! Jesus, how low can you get?!

Ally

Not now - later, when he's all finished.

Brucie

Unless something else comes up sooner and you need the money.

Ally

No! I... Why am I defending myself to you people? I don't owe you a thing! Ronny's right - it's like being in the Nick, except you are the bloody screws. As soon as Barney comes I'm going to get my gear and get the fuck out. You happy, Terry. You've won. I'm going. I can't stand this shit!

Terry

You serious? You're leaving?

Ally

Yeah, you're welcome to it. You can turn it into a bloody kids' home if you want. I'm going to my room until Barney gets here. You looking for kip, Bruce? 'Cos there's a vacancy.

Brucie

Not me, mate. I got my place.

Ronny

You don't have to leave, man!

Ally

I told you. I don't have to do anything! I'm getting out 'cos this place is becoming a bloody zoo. Barney's got room. It's a bit late to be worrying about me.

Ronny

I wasn't worried!

Ally

Give me a shout when Barney comes, will you?

(Ally exits. There is silence for a moment.)

Ronny

Spiv, I thought you were going to put the kettle on?

Spiv

OK, in a minute. You don't think Ally's going to give me a hiding, do you? I didn't want him to move out. I didn't want to cause any aggro.

Terry

He wouldn't pull out unless he had something planned. Don't worry about it!

Spiv

I don't want him to think I was getting cocky 'cos you were here.

Terry

Relax. You can kiss his arse later on. He's going to rip you off, anyway, so that'll make you buddies again. Right now, we've got a bigger problem! The Prof is probably gone off by now. We can't keep him here much longer.

Ronny

You're right, man, but we've been through this already. I'm not just dumping him.

Terry

Okay, let's not start all that crap again. Let's bring him down here wrapped in a sleeping bag. When Barney comes we'll load him in the van and run him to the hospital. I know it ain't perfect, but this way he'll get looked after. It's not like we can come up with the money for a funeral.

Ronny

Barney ain't going to let us do that.

Terry

He will if we help him load the clobber from last night. Bruce, come up and give us a hand to wrap him up.

Brucie

Yeah, alright.

(Terry and Bruce exit.)

Spiv

D'you think Ally will really pull out?

Ronny

Yeah. I think he's been looking for an excuse. I wouldn't be surprised if him and Barney had a good result from that safe last night.

Spiv

Will I get my money, you think?

Ronny

You'll get some. I doubt if you'll get your share. Ally knows you're not going to make too much noise, so he'll slip you something on account and fob you off after that. Maybe you learn something, but I doubt it. Will Billy take you back?

Spiv

I think so, but I don't want to go back if Ally's going to rip off his punters. I wish to Christ I could keep my mouth shut. Do you think my old man will let me come back?

Ronny

You want to go back to Ireland?!

Spiv

Yeah. I feel like such a fuck-up here. Everything I touch turns to crap. At least in Ireland I don't feel so afraid all the time.

Ronny

Your Dad'll likely take you back. Just stay off the piss. What are you going to do for work? There's no more there than here!

Spiv

I don't know. I do know if I stay in London I'll end up dead like the Prof. He was good to me - helped me out with smokes and dough. You won't believe this, but he never tried anything. I know he used to watch me shaving and stuff. I never minded. He seemed harmless. Now he's bloody dead. Sometimes when I've been on the bevvy, I think I should just top myself and get it over with. But knowing me, I'd balls it up and end up a cripple. There was this guy on Billy's job, same age as me. He's got a wife, kids, place of his own! We were talking and he asked me where I lived. I was almost ashamed to answer him! I looked at meself in the mirror and I think, "What bird in her right mind would go with you?" And if she did, where would I take her? I can't remember the last time I took a decent bird out. At least at home I've me own room. Maybe I can enroll in one of them government schemes. I know they ain't work a shit, but I may learn some kind of trade. I can get off the booze and pills at home - me folks'll help. Here I've no chance.

Ronny

You sound pretty serious. Do you think Ally will give you enough dough to cross over?

Spiv

Yeah, at least I hope so. Look, I'm going to 'phone my old man - see if he'll take me back. If Ally don't give me money, maybe my Dad will wire it to my Auntie Mary and she can buy the ticket. That way he can see I'm serious. I'll make that drop of tea when I get back.

Ronny

If that's what you want to do, good luck with it! You're going as soon as you can - that makes sense. Make up your mind and go. When me and Terry first got here I wanted to go back so bad, but every time I'd get near to having the fare something would come up - a surefire horse, a couple of beers to make me mind up. Before I knew it the money was all gone and I'd start dreaming and saving again. That was over twenty years ago. I never got back - never will now. It's like Terry says: I'm just another English Paddy. Getting pissed and singing "Danny Boy" is the nearest I'll ever get to going home. Don't balls this up for yourself, Spiv. As soon as you get the ticket, get on that boat-train and go. I don't know if there's anything better for you across the water, but there can't be much worse. Go and ring your Dad. I'll make me own tea.

Spiv

Thanks for trying to look after me. I'll be back soon.

(Spiv exits. Ronny is alone. There is low volume coming from the television. He sees there is no picture. Angrily, he crosses and bangs the side of the TV, slowly at first but with increasing violence as it produces no result. He is cursing loudly when Terry and Brucie re-enter carrying the sleeping bag.)

Ronny

Piece of shit! When I get my hands on Daly, I'll wring his bastard neck!

Terry

What's wrong with you?

Ronny (sitting down in frustration)

Nothing.

Terry

You wouldn't believe the weight of this thing! I thought the Prof never ate anything. Did Spiv make that drop of tea?

Ronny

No. I'll put the kettle on in a minute. Spiv's going back to Ireland.

Brucie

You're kidding, right? I though he hated Ireland. He's always saying how he couldn't do nothing there.

Ronny

It's his old man he hates. His old feller gave up drinking years ago. He won't let Spiv drink while he's living at home. Rooney makes him go to AA meetings with him. Spiv has to live by Rooney's rules, and he don't like it. He's over here 'cos Rooney chucked him out. Spiv went down to call him - see if he'll take him back.

Brucie

Will he?

Ronny

Course he will. There'll be a new set of rules for Spiv. Rooney's his Dad. He won't turn his back on him. When he threw Spiv out, I got a letter from him asking me to keep an eye on the boy. I didn't do much of a job, did I? So I'm glad he's going - one thing less to feel guilty about.

(There is a loud knock at the door.)

Terry

It's Barney!

(Terry crosses and opens the door. A voice is heard.)

Voice

Good morning, Sir. I am from TV License Enforcement. Can I see your license for that television?

Brucie

Shit! That's what I came to tell you...