We Two Boys – A Play

WE TWO BOYS was first performed by Bogus Theatre Company at the Leadmill, Sheffield and Celtic Lodge, Edinburgh, in August 1983, with the following cast:

BILLY Stuart Golland

WILLIAM Christopher Wilkinson

Directed by Jane Collins

Stage managed by Fran O’Shea

WE TWO BOYS was performed by Grapple & Graft Theatre Company at The Nuffield, Southampton and The Finborough Arms and The New End, London, in June 1984. It won the George Orwell Memorial Award in 1984

WE TWO BOYS

ACT ONE

MUSIC: ‘THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN’ BY THIN LIZZY.

BLACKOUT. LIGHTS FADE UP ON BILLY AND WILLIAM INTENT ON A GAME OF POKER. THEY SIT ON WOODEN BLOCKS EITHER SIDE OF A TABLE CENTRE STAGE. THE TABLE IS COVERED WITH A TABLECLOTH ON WHICH STANDS TWO COKE CANS, A TOBACCO TIN THEY USE AS AN ASHTRAY, CARDS AND MATCHES WHICH THEY BET WITH. THEY SHARE A CIGARETTE.

BILLY IS STOCKY AND WEARS A STRIPED RUGBY SHIRT AND JEANS. WILLIAM IS SKINNY AND BESPECTACLED, WEARS A BOW TIE AND BLAZER.

MUSIC FADES.

BILLY WINS THE GAME AND LAUGHS, TRIUMPHANT. WILLIAM SULKS. THEY GROW FIDGETY, LOOKING FOR NEW ENTERTAINMENT.

BILLY:          See last night’s conflict, William? What a performance, eh? That had me gnashing, I can tell you!

WILLIAM:      Oh sensational. That young chappy gave it some bottle.

BILLY:          Norrarf, and when Jenkins scorched in off the back end…

WILLIAM:      Marvellous!

BILLY:          Thumping stuff!

WILLIAM:      Quite so.

(PAUSE)

WILLIAM:      Did you catch that end bit?

BILLY:          Sorry?

WILLIAM:      The end bit – when Chalkie dribbled off and the Boss called for a chuck up?

BILLY:          Well – good on him!

WILLIAM:      But Billy, it was a blinder.

BILLY:          I saw it with my own two eyes, old boot.

(HE POINTS OUT THE PLAYERS’ POSITIONS WITH THE CANS ON THE TABLE.)

Chalkie here, right?

WILLIAM:      Right.

BILLY:          Jefferson foreshadowing, right?

WILLIAM:      Right.

BILLY:`        And then up comes Chalkie from the left hand and stuffs in the old two/four like a sodding geranium!

WILLIAM:      Not at all, it was simply a classic example of the double lined blinder.

BILLY:          Like a sodding geranium!

(PAUSE)

BILLY:          What’s to do then, eh?

(WILLIAM STARTS GIGGLING).

WILLIAM:      Oh I say!

BILLY:          What? What??

WILLIAM:      Hey – let’s wag off round the bog and prank, eh?

BILLY:          Nah.

WILLIAM:      Snoop on Old Baldy and fiddle the bits. Give Minor a wigging… you know, Billy: do naughties.

BILLY:          Tear the legs off sissies? Drink piss? Rip Sally’s skirt and pinch her whoppers? Go sniffing knickers and gob on policemen!

WILLIAM:      Scratch our knees knicking sticks from the tuckshop – you know the stuff.

BILLY:          (STANDING). I’m tops though, sunbeam.

WILLIAM:      Why?

BILLY:          I’m tops because I eat bricks.

WILLIAM:      I’m the hugest because my Daddy’s loaded.

BILLY:          I’m the hugest because I’ve got hairs and no returns or else I’ll thump you.

WILLIAM:      Bullying scruffbag!

BILLY:          Wet! You shitty pisshole!

WILLIAM:      You blob! You grotty scumball!

BILLY:          Come here and say that.

WILLIAM:      Shan’t.

BILLY:          Come here.

WILLIAM:      Won’t.

BILLY:          Come!

WILLIAM:      Oh dear. I cringe and suck thumb now, blink slow through teary eyes. Oh mum, what horrors. This big strong boy’s come to batter me cruelly.

BILLY:          Hey, Snotty.

WILLIAM:      Who me, sir?

BILLY:          I gob on you, wimp features. My dad beat me black and blue and I never reddened. I didn’t whimper or widdle once. Me? I’m tough and resentful – my uncle’s a pirate. Come here, snot, or I’ll thump you!

(WILLIAM JUMPS UP ONTO THE BLOCK HE WAS SITTING ON)

WILLIAM:      Policemen! Mummy! Billy is roughing and summoned the scaredycats – come quick please and tell him!

BILLY:          I’m coming to get you, pipsqueak. Stenguns and jackboots, flick knives and pulpfaces! (HE PUTS HIS FISTS UP READY TO STRIKE). Cop this, blub arse!

WILLIAM:      I’ll give you, Billy.

BILLY:          Give me what exactly?

WILLIAM:      Oh… things.

BILLY:          Tell me what or I’ll thump you.

WILLIAM:      (PRODUCING A BAG FROM HIS POCKET) Look – in this scrumpled up bag.

BILLY:          Ooh! Ah – well… cleverclogs, eh? Poshoes and flash ones – I see. Gimme ‘em, you squirt.

WILLIAM:      Shan’t.

BILLY:          Gimme.

WILLIAM:      Won’t.

BILLY: Gimme!

WILLIAM:      Can’t. I promise. Blood honour. These are the winnings of Daddykins, his big ones. But look here, Billy, if you should tow my line…

BILLY: Now watch it, Wimpo; I’m big as shit.

WILLIAM:      And I’m bright as a knife and wealthy with it. You thump and I’ll cut you. Deep. Gab on you venomous, you see?

(HE STEPS OFF THE BLOCK AND CROSSES TO SIT ON THE OTHER ONE, PRODUCING A PEA SHOOTER FROM HIS POCKET AS HE DOES SO.)

Pax, old chap?

(HE SHOOTS A PEA AT BILLY).

BILLY:          Hmm… well… call it a truce. Uneasy peace. (HE SITS) Hey – we’ll truant right, and go laddoes!

WILLIAM:      Now that’s more like it. Splice the batttlecry. Chunder forth.

BILLY: Two together, tough and sparkling.

BILLY & WILLIAM (LEAPING UP TO FACE THE AUDIENCE):

Up and at ‘em!

WILLIAM:      Absolutely. Decked out in finery, a valiant package, harry the ranks with spear and sword.

BILLY:         Come on, cock – let’s swagger.

(THEY MARCH TOGETHER AROUND THE STAGE, BILLY LEADING, WILLIAM COPYING HIS MOVEMENTS.)

BILLY: All right, Blossom?

WILLIAM:      All right, Bruiser. Two together: him and me.

BILLY:          Me and him. The two of us, Take no lip. We are the Champions. Right, wimpo?

WILLIAM:      Right, Brickhead.

(BILLY OBJECTS TO THAT TITLE SO TURNS AND TRIPS HIM. WILLIAM FALLS.)

BILLY: Watch it, Squire.

WILLIAM:      (PICKING HIMSELF UP AGAIN). You and me, Billy. What a team.

BILLY:          You bet.

(THEY STAND AT THE FRONT OF THE STAFE LOOKING OUT).

BILLY:          So, where’s the strife? Some spastic to pulp up, or a gypowog to claw some and slit eye…

WILLIAM:      Billy – how rotterish!

BILLY: All right then, some posh arsed git to plunder if that’s more deserving.

WILLIAM:      No, no – let’s play a game, we two; make epic together, intrepid and suspenceful.

BILLY:          Cops and Victims and bags be cops: count to three and I’ll pan yer head in.

WILLIAM:      Billy, no! A grander game this one: yes, a journey of unravelment. We’ll need our wits about us.

BILLY:          Let’s play Napalm again and you be the carnage.

WILLIAM:      No, no – we can further that for sure, two neat young sparks like us. Look ceilingwards, old fruit. What gloriousness awaits us once we’ve grasped the clues. This room’s a ruddy oyster; with your grit, my smoothtalk iced around it..

BILLY:          You’re cracked, old nut. Can’t see a monkey’s flaming armpit.

WILLIAM:      Look – I’ll show you. (HE MAPS OUT THEIR JOURNEY USING THE OBJECTS ON THE TABLE). We are here, right?

BILLY:          Right if you say so.

WILLIAM:      Believe me that we are. We’ll need to journey first through these.. fiddly bits. Like this.

BILLY:          I see. (HE DOESN’T)

WILLIAM:      At this point here we broaden out to encompass enemy lines along Parameter B, thus. You follow?

BILLY:          Sure. But then what?

WILLIAM:      Um, then… a city! Yes, of course.

BILLY: Why a city then? Why there?

WILLIAM:      The significance of this is highly Top Secret and relevant. Here we must pretend… (HE’S FLOUNDERING NOW AS BILLY REALISES).

BILLY:          Pretend what?

WILLIAM:      Complicated things – you’ll see.

BILLY:          And if we don’t, then what?

WILLIAM:      We’ll get got, by hovering splats and suchlike.

BILLY:          So what about this pretending lark?

WILLIAM:      You be a rock and I’ll go frilly. That’s it. I’ll keep house. Thus at least some part will be revealed. And… then the word. And then the chase. And then we get there.

BILLY:          Where?

WILLIAM:      The Goal, of course. Where everything’s made plain and we get given everything.

BILLY:          What – like striped paint, and X-ray specs to see through walls and..

WILLIAM:      All that and more, Billy. Doubloons and crocks and.. (HE PICKS UP THE TABLE CLOTH AND CARESSES IT TENDERLY) the Damsel of course, distressed no longer once we’ve shown up to brighten her. She’ll love us as at a glance.

BILLY:          Ugh!

WILLIAM:      She’ll love us wonderfully though, like you can’t quite imagine quite.

BILLY:          Hmmf!

WILLIAM:      (DROPPING THE CLOTH) Oh – but before that… just here in fact: The Threat! Of course. But that’s unspeakable. We’ll need to conquer that to reach the end. You’ll like that bit.

BILLY:          You’ve got me blind still, Softy. I’m jiggered if I can grasp it.

WILLIAM:      But that’s to be expected. Simply a matter of innate lack of suss.

BILLY:          You what?

WILLIAM:      Don’t worry it. Look – crouch down. (BILLY CROUCHES) I’ll simply ride aloft your shoulderhood awhile and show the way. You’ll get the hang. (WILLIAM SITS ON HIS SHOULDERS.) Trust me Billy, my word is writ in adamant. Come now, Sir Billy, arise.

(BILLY STRUGGLES TO HIS FEET WITH WILLIAM ON HIS SHOULDERS.)

WILLIAM:      (PRODUCING PENCIL AND NOTEBOOK FROM HIS JACKET AND STARTING TO SCRIPPLE FURIOUSLY)
Now: throw six to start and tally up some computations. Let’s see: x plus 5 to the power of… my brain, your brawn… subjugate to the Nth degree… hmmm… (HE COUNTS ON HIS FINGERS EARNESTLY.)

BILLY:          Get a chuffing move on, Egghead.

WILLIAM:      Five paces to the left! (BILLY TOTTERS FIVE PACES) Six paces north by north west, three point six recurring. (BILLY STAGGERS ABOUT ENDING UP WHERE THEY STARTED.) Now, look left, look right, take one step forward two steps back – (BILLY OBEYS) and cough three times. (BILLY COUGHS) Now, jump bail and whisk till creamy, light blue touch paper and circle till the fog lifts. (FED UP WITH STRUGGLING TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS, BILLY DUMPS WILLIAM BACK ON THE GROUND).

Oh – not there already are we?

BILLY:          I should biffing well say not. What a corkscrew!

WILLIAM:      Oh – some sort of error. Perhaps I should have trebled the invertebrate.

BILLY:          Cut the gander will ya and let’s get screeching. Hop on my back. (WALTER OBLIGES) Right birdbrain: point the way.

WILLIAM:      that way – open the gates.

WILLIAM POINTS TO THE BACK OF THE THEATRE AND BILLY RUNS WITH WILLIAM UP THE AISLE AS THEY BOTH MAKE SOUNDS OF CARS, BUGLE CALLS ETC. WILLIAM DISMOUNTS.

BILLY:          Okay, sidekick, the coast’s clear. Let’s burrow

(THEY GET DOWN ON ALL FOURS AND TUNNEL UNDER AND AROUND THE SEATS IN THE AUDITORIUM)

BILLY:          Got the rations?

WILLIAM:      Yessir.

BILLY:          Policies?

WILLIAM:      Yessir.

BILLY:          Weaponry?

WILLIAM:      Yessir. Ample sustenance for all fortitudes assured, sir.

BILLY:          Well done, Junior.

WILLIAM:      Thank you, sir.

(THEY FLATTEN THEMSELVES AGAINST THE SIDE WALL AND SIDLE SLOWLY BACK TOWARDS THE STAGE)

BILLY:          Careful of the cracks, son, or the ballchewers’ll crunch you. Useful tactic this: the creep invisible. Oho! I hear baddies! Close your eyes or they’ll cop you a stunner. (BOTH SHUT THEIR EYES TIGHT)

WILLIAM:      Have they gone yet, sir?

BILLY:          Hang on, I’ll check. (HE PEEPS) Phew – that was a shaver. Return to visibility now, Blinker. (WILLIAM OPENS HIS EYES AGAIN). Now, when I give the word, run like a nosebleed. Now!!!

THEY BOTH RUSH BACK ON STAGE, FIRING IMAGINARY GUNS INTO THE AUDIENCE. THEY GRAB THE TABLE AND DROP IT ONTO ITS SIDE THEN HIDE BEHIND IT, PUSHING IT TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE. THEN THEY PEEP OVER.

BILLY:          Those goddam shooters! Did you see them coming whistling in? We’ll get them, eh, though. Where’s Chalkie?

WILLIAM:      They pranged him in the flank, sir. I’m afraid he’s a ginner.

BILLY: Hell’s teeth. He was a proud brute too.

WILLIAM:      One of the best, sir. Poor dummy.

BILLY: Got the goggles, underling?

WILLIAM:      Yessir. (HE PUTS HIS FISTS UP TO HIS EYES TO MAKE BINOCULARS).

BILLY: What’s the picture, chappo?

WILLIAM:      Hard to see quite. Very dark out there. Darm but warm. Tiny pinpricks of light. Captain – we are not alone.

BILLY: More alien vermin? Let’s get in there and blap ‘em.

WILLIAM:      No no sir – I believe it’s friendly.

BILLY:          Don’t trust, don’t budge. Beware of smarmy, smiling things, lad. They slither you, tickle you gently till you lie back then – WHAM – they’ve grabbed you round the nasties and ripped out your underbelly before you’ve time to yowl.

WILLIAM:      I can smell it too, sir. Some aspect of all these doings we’ve failed to

connect. I think I like it, Billy, though it scares me rigid.

BILLY: Gimme those viewers. (HE LOOKS FOR HIMSELF). You ruddy

halfbrick.

WILLIAM:      What?

BILLY: You daft old rag! That’s nothing but titterings. Huh! Sissy stuff, that is,

All dollies and girlybits, all smothering stickiness and pong. Nothing to do with that lot but bust in and stuff some. Here, cover me while I tough up and legover – that’s no mystery.

WILLIAM:      Give me those specs again. (BILLY CLIMBS OUT OF THEIR SHELTER). No – there’s more to it than that. This stuff is significant. Makes me go a bit pick though.

BILLY: Quick! The prangers are back. Get your head down – ratatatatatatatat!

WILLIAM:      I think we should go there.

BILLY:          Kapow – kapow – oho they’re letting us have it with their biggest spiker. Kapow! Kapow!

WILLIAM:      Come on, Billy, pack it in. Let’s get going that way.

BILLY:          Kapow – kapow. (CLUTCHES HIS STOMACH). Aaaaaarrghhh! They got me.

WILLIAM:      Captain – what’s up?

BILLY:          Oh holies – they winged me in the gizzard.

WILLIAM:      Don’t freak, sir. ‘Tis only a fleshbite. You’ll see it through. Wait there, old Cap.

BILLY TOTTERS ABOUT IN PAIN WHILE WILLIAM CHEERFULLY PUTS THE TABLE UPRIGHT THEN RUNS BACK TO FETCH HIS PATIENT.

WILLIAM       (SINGS):

Rest your head on my shoulder, Lord,

You can lean on me.

Lay your head upon my breast

And I will tender thee.

And if you’re good I’ll ask my mum

To cook you a cup of tea.

AS HE SINGS HE LIES BILLY DOWN ON THE TABLE THEN SITS CRADLING BILLY’S HEAD ON HIS KNEES.

WILLIAM:      Oh my fading star, how pale you grow. Stiff upperlipped I hide my horror, claw back tears, ease you motherly with talk of what you had for breakfast, whose your next of kin. I mop your brow. Speak to me, your Toughness – make some sign.

BILLY (MURMURS): Brekkibix.

WILLIAM:      Excuse me?

BILLY: Brekkibix. It’s what I had for breakfast. Aah! The pain! And toast.

WILLIAM:      Shiver my timbers, he’s alight with life yet.

BILLY: Where am I? I fear the brink – tell Mum I love her.

WILLIAM (GETTING UP TO EXAMINE THE PATIENT):

Don’t talk like that, old Bleeder. We’ll pull you through. Where does it hurt?

BILLY: There, Doctor. There also. Aagh – there even moreso.

WILLIAM:      I see. Double glazing of the obstreperous. We’ll have to operate.

BILLY: I’ll bite the bullet – I can clench.

(WILLIAM PRODUCES A PEN KNIFE FROM HIS POCKET).

WILLIAM:      Now this is going to hurt me about a billion times less than it’s going to hurt you.

(WILLIAM LIFTS THE KNIFE ABOVE HIS HEAD PREPARING TO PLUNGE IT INTO HIS PATIENT’S INNARDS, BUT BILLY SITS UP QUICKLY).

BILLY: Before you unzip me, William, I propose a toast.

WILLIAM:      A bonding oath of buddyhood?

BILLY: A noble rite of honourdom. Shall we have a jab?

WILLIAM:      All right, Monsieur.

(BILLY LEAPS UP AND THEY ASSUME THEIR POSITIONS FOR THE OATH).

BILLY:          How shall we start? ‘In the name of the Father, the Son – and of Mum I suppose, We the Undefined, do hereby swear with a kick (THEY KICK EACH OTHER), and a punch, (THEY PUNCH EACH OTHER) this year, this month…

WILLIAM:      …this day, this month, do solemnise and pompously in utter ignorance assume great phallic arrogance and claptrap hypocritic…

BILLY:          ..do pledge to blub no more, nor squeal, nor sneak on chums, nor give an inch..

WILLIAM:      With a punch

BILLY: And a pinch

WILLIAM:      And a nudge and a wink

BILLY: For ours is the brotherdom,

WILLIAM:      The power, the glory,

BILLY: The Y Fronts, the wife,

WILLIAM:      Like it or lump it,

BILLY: For the good of the gang,

WILLIAM:      For the rest of our life. Probably.

BILLY: Willybilly, Willybilly, Oi, Oi, Oi.

WILLIAM:      Willybilly, Willybilly, Oi, Oi, Oi.

BOTH:         Willybilly, Willybilly, Oi, Oi, Oi.

(THEY RUSH INTO EACH OTHER’S ARMS LAUGHING).

BILLY: Old bud.

WILLIAM:      Fellow perpetrator.

(THEN BILLY REMEMBERS HIS WOUND).

BILLY: Aargh! The pain, the pain!

WILLIAM:      Right. (HELPS HIM ONTO THE TABLE AGAIN)

Apply anaesthetic. (WILLIAM PUTS BILLY’S THUMB IN HIS MOUTH) Now, I’ll sever the pullover here. (HE PULLS UP BILLY’S JUMPER AND PRODS HIM. BILLY YELPS.) Hmm.. a second declension if ever I saw one. I’ll rub here with gumption and much professionalism. (HE RUBS BILLY’S STOMACH).

BILLY: Aarghh!

WILLIAM:      This very very clever and expensive gadget here should do the trick. (HE HOLDS HIS HAND AT THE WRIST AND WRIGGLES HIS FINGERS). Just insert up here. (HE PUTS THE WRIGGLING FINGERS UP BILLY’S JUMPER).

How’s conditions?

BILLY (GIGGLING): Terminal. But could be worse.

WILLIAM:      I’ll up the subordinate – double the dosage.

(HE STARTS TO TICKLE BILLY)

BILLY:          Hey that tickles! Stop it Doc. Hey – William – pack it in will you. I’m feeling fine now. Ooh! Hey!

(THE TUSSLE DEVELOPS INTO A FRIENDLY TICKLING MATCH AND BOTH END UP ROLLING ON THE FLOOR IN HYSTERICS. LIGHTS FADE DOWN. MUSIC UP).

ACT TWO

(LIGHTS FADE UP AND MUSIC DOWN. BILLY AND WILLIAM SIT ON THE GROUND BACK TO BACK CENTRE STAGE, RELAXING AFTER THEIR EXERTIONS.)

WILLIAM:      Billy?

BILLY: Hmm?

WILLIAM:      Billy?

BILLY: Mmm?

WILLIAM:      I was just thinking…

BILLY: Well, stop it.

WILLIAM:      (TAKEN ABACK) Oh – right. Yuh.

Ah the satisfaction of it: back to back, him and me, that only. His shoulders reassuring, treelike, this mighty, stubborn calm.

Billy?

BILLY: Mmm?

WILLIAM:      How’s the scarring, your Heaviness?

BILLY: Unbearable. I can tackle it, though.

WILLIAM:      The doctor’s doings eased it?

BILLY: Oh I should cocoa.

WILLIAM:      Marvellous work these wallahs do these days, eh?

BILLY;          Great stuff that gadgetry. A good manking with a damp cloth and you’re well away.

WILLIAM;      Of course.

BILLY:          And there you have it. Anyway, laddy, where to now then, eh? I’ll need to heal awhile before we soldier on, mind. Give us a lift.

(THEY INTERTWINE THEIR ARMS AND STAND TOGETHER, WILLIAM SUPPORTING) Ooh ye Gods, I’m whimpered.

WILLIAM (POINTS TO THE TABLE): Oh, look, sir. A deserted vehicle – what luck. Let’s get varooming.

(WILLIAM PLACES A BLOCK IN FRONT OF THE TABLE WHICH HE TURNS WIDTHWAYS ON. BILLY SITS ON THE TABLE WHILE BILLY PRETENDS TO START THE CAR, BOTH MAKING VAROOMING NOISES.

WILLIAM:      We’ll get her purring in a jiff. (THEY DRIVE OFF, BILLY JIGGLIING UP AND DOWN MAKING ENGINE NOISES).

BILLY:          Now that’s better. Cruising the wasteland, right? Describe our surrounds.

WILLIAM:      Deep behind enemy lines I judge we are. On your left the wartorn strife. Note the burning babies and the ketchup. And there: the crocodiles of war, crying and crunching bones. And on your right the outskirts of the cityscape.

BILLY:          Oh yeah. Look at them kids on the hopscotch playing worms. And the shops – sherbert whizzers ten a penny. Oho – Copper Flap Ears yonder, Watch yer act, Will.

(BOTH DUCK TO AVOID BEING SPOTTED).

WILLIAM:      Has he gone?

BILLY:          Now that was a shaver. Hey look: Cheeky Nellie. (HE WOLFWHISTLES). She’s sloping off with Jimmy Riddle to shaggydog. C’mon, let’s stop here and go cherry knocking, can’t we?

WILLIAM:      Ah but this is no ordinary homeland.

BILLY:          You’ve got a tile loose. We’re back at base. Look, there’s the drizzleyard and…

WILLIAM:      Far from it, Silly Dick. This is the other version. Things are not what they seem. Oh yes, it looks like normal; the sky is blue, the cornershops sell scouring pads and bars of Sticko, but..

BILLY:          But?

WILLIAM:      It’s all a phantom.

BILLY:          No.

WILLIAM:      You see that harmless lamp post? The periscope of plotting peepers. That innocent gritfactory? Prof Sinister’s monstrous laboratory. That sleepy tramp? As soon as our back’s turned he’ll whip out his cider bottle, press the top and walkie talkie back to the boss about us.

BILLY:          But it looks so like real.

WILLIAM:      Dastardly, eh!
BILLY:          I had my suspicions of course. Did they honestly think I’d be travelling so gullible?

WILLIAM:      Poor fools!

BILLY:          Well then, this is a different matter. Remind me of your plan. What brought us to this god forsaken dustbin?

WILLIAM:      (TURNING DRAMATICALLY TO BILLY) Another mission, another dame, another town. (HE LEAPS UP AND SETS THE SCENE FOR THIS SECTION, PUTTING THE TABLE ON ITS SIDE, WIDTH WAYS DOWN TO FORM THE COUNTER OF A BAR.)

You loosen your tie and rub your stubblee, go out to grab some liquor in a neon bar on West Fifty East.

(WILLIAM STANDS BESIDE THE COUNTER AND CARFULLY ADOPTS A FLOOZY POSE).

There you meet ‘Floozy’, a vacant lot of a bombshell with legs fit to burst – that’s me. “You’re the kind of a slobber a cute could go nuts on.” I whinny, arching my buxoms.

BILLY:          Now now, nothing softy.

WILLIAM:      Not from me, Slowcoach. I’m strictly dynamite, the kick and pant type.

BILLY:          Okay, that’s cool. Any mushy stuff from you, though, Sweets, and I’ll go suspenders.

WILLIAM:      That’s the talk I like, Tallwalker. Makes my shreds hug sultry round my supple yearnings.

BILLY:          I see. Right. Give me a drink then, Lovage.

WILLIAM:      What’s your poison, Toots?

BILLY:          Er.. the usual?
(WILLIAM SERVES HIM SEDUCTIVELY WITH ONE OF THE COKE CANS)

WILLIAM:      Well, give with the backchat then, Dingaling.

BILLY:          Um.. See last night’s conflict, Floozy?

WILLIAM:      No.

BILLY:          Pity. Come here often?

WILLIAM:      I run the joint, Dummo.

BILLY:          Ah… Ere love, you go with me and I’ll turn you into a red injun.

WILLIAM:      How?

BILLY (RAISING HIS ARM TO IMITATE AN INDIAN CHIEF):

How!

Haha – get it?

(BILLY IS ENJOYING HIMSELF NOW AND AFFECTIONATE TOO. HE STARTS TO SING TO FLOOZY.)

Oh |Floozy, you’re a funny ‘un

With a face like a pickled onion,

A nose like a squashed tomato

And teeth like green peas.

WILLIAM:      I like your style, hunky. Come – let’s make beautiful coffee together back at your place and I’ll cater your whim.

(WILLIAM PLACES THE TABLE ON ITS SIDE, LENGTHWAYS DOWN, AND DRAPES THE CLOTH OVER THE FRONT TO MAKE A BED. HE CROUCHES BEHIND IT CLUTCHING THE SHEET TO HIS BREAST.)

WILLIAM:      Come here, Bigboy.

(HESITANTLY BILLY JOINS HIM IN BED).

BILLY:          So now what?

WILLIAM:      Now we Do It, don’t we.

BILLY:          What?

WILLIAM:      You know… (HE WHISPERS TO HIM).

BILLY:          You’ve got to be kidding.

(WILLIAM SINKS OUT OF SIGHT AS HE GETS MORE INVOLVED IN HIS NEXT SPEECH, LEAVING BILLY LOOKING CONFUSED BUT GRUNTING TO HIMSELF AS HE TOO BECOMES ABSORBED).

WILLIAM:      I think I’ve got it right. First I coy and peel away in lavish revelation as you pull it up and slide them down and stuff it in and rip it off; I gurgle glorious givings as white hot you savage arrow me with slamming, thrusting, rearing, snorting, pounding somethings, Cleave me, you steamroller. Explode me, you stomach pump.

‘Snotshit!’ I talkdirty as you hammer, hammer, as I twist and juice and arrghh and splat and whoosh and zip and boing as you bomb and bomb, sweat, sprawl, beg more your huge enormous oomph you batter ram you powerhouse you glooby dooby oompahpah you brute you beaut you!

(SLOWLY WILLIAM REAPPEARS, SNUGGLING UP TO BILLY TO FORM A TABLEAU OF THE POST COITAL).

WILLIAM:      Oh darling, you were stupendous.

BILLY: Really?

WILLIAM:      I think so.

BILLY: So we did it then did we?

WILLIAM:      Very probably.

BILLY:          As long as we did Do It. Not that I haven’t done it at least a trillion times before of course.

WILLIAM:      Of course.

BILLY:          I mean, I’ve done it about this long and ooh – more than this wide in my time. Me? My life’s been one long doing of it, really.

WILLIAM:      Really?

BILLY:          Don’t really often stop doing it – except of course to eat more hot dinners than what you’ve ever done.

WILLIAM:      I understand.

BILLY: Well as long as that’s understood.

WILLIAM:      Oh it is, it is.

BILLY:          Well, there we are then. Anyway, what’s a nice piece like you doing in a lark like this, Lollipop? If you don’t mind me asking.

WILLIAM:      I’m 38 – 21 and a bit – 38. I jut about in fast cars and men open doors and gulp and sweat at the legs on me.

BILLY:          Ah, but don’t you do anything else?

WILLIAM:      No, I see whim-catering as a fulltime occupation.

BILLY:          Oh, I’d like to play left hooker with the Killers, myself, or drums with the Axemen. Or else be a vet. You?

WILLIAM:      I like nothing better than to lick the bits of my favourite bigboy.

BILLY:          Eugh – you’re kidding.

WILLIAM:      I don’t think so.

BILLY:          Anyway, William, now what? Am I still jiggered by my wounded whatsit?

WILLIAM:      All right then. (HE LEAPS OUT OF BED, GESTURING LIKE A STAGE MAGICIAN.) It is the work of a moment to amputate. A substitute is briskly carved from the nearest bedpost by your devoted Floozy. You at once leap up and express yourself ready to take all comers.

BILLY STEPS OUT FROM BEHIND THE TABLE, WALKING NORMALLY

BILLY:          Ah now, that’s more like it. Stiffen my benders, Floozy my old bedpan, I needs must strive. All this pillowtalk’ll turn me pansy. Gimme the open road and the spade a spade. Gimme the wind in my fist and the backlash of toil. Let’s get going then. Next.

WILLIAM:      I, Floozy, stay at base making beds, cakes and babies. You button up cool and stroll citywide, fortune seeking, Careful though, it’s dangerous ground. Farewell, my Sweetness.

BILLY:          Tara, love. See ya later.

(THEY WAVE GOODBYE AND BILLY WALKS ACROSS STAGE TALKING TO HIMSELF WHILE WILLIAM PUTS THE TABLE ON ITS LEGS AND SITS BEHIND IT.)

BILLY:          Now, that’s more like it. Back out in the honesty, plying a trade. I’m the type, see, if I’ve got nothing to do – I’ve got to have something to do: make things with big machines, lark with the gang over pintpots, gerra bit spicey, right, while the wife’s out of earshot, eh? Good honest fun – and a fistful of fivers at the end of it – now, that’s the life.

(BILLY LOOKS AT THE TABLE WHERE WILLIAM IS BUSILY PRETENDING TO SIGN PAPERS.)

Here we go: apprentice sweatgrinder sought. Give it a whirl, eh? Knock knock knock.

WILLIAM:      Come.

BILLY:          Er.

WILLIAM:      Take a seat.

BILLY:          Thanks, Gaffer. Come about the slot to fill.

WILLIAM:      One moment, fellow. (CONTINUES TO SIGN PAPERS)

BILL:            ‘Alias’ is the name, sir. You can’t be too careful.

WILLIAM:      Right, Mister Alias. A likely story. I raise my eyebrows with an air of surprise. You seek employment?

BILLY:          Yessir. I’m a good, stout hearted salt with the will to work and the muscle to prove it.

WILLIAM:      Do not bandy words with me, young man. We need a sweater.

BILLY:          Then I’m your man, sir.

WILLIAM:      Can you buckle? The work involves underbuckling.

BILLY:          I can but try, sir, and you can’t say fairer.

WILLIAM:      Well then, let’s be seeing.

(HE PRODUCES A BEAN BAG FROM HIS POCKET WHICH HE THROWS AT BILLY WHO JUST MANAGES TO CATCH IT).

Responses adequate enough. Return it pronto.

(BILLY THROWS IT BACK AND A GAME OF CATCH ENSUES WHICH SPEEDS UP AS THE INTERVIEW CONTINUES)

Good training, this, for the work in hand, young welp. Encourages discipline and a certain mushiness betwixt the ears which separates the sheep from the troublemakers.

BILLY:          I’ll give you no cause for complaint, sir. I play hard and demand nothing more than just desserts.

WILLIAM:      My time is money, Alias, and I have a lot of it upon my hands. My occupation: fiddling with paperclips and secretaries and I make it my business to bully. It’s not a pleasant duty, Alias.

BILLY:          ‘In the event of disciplinaries, only the moment of time suspended shall act industrial’. It’s in the rules sir.

WILLIAM:      I give you a sharp look. A ghost of a smile hovers for a moment round my lips. I’ve been on courses.

Your recompense is minimal, your duties thus: to fit the screw as it should be placed. Repeat this act ad nauseam.

BILLY:          Subject only to required standards of practicability of course, sir.

(THE GAME OF CATCH IS NOW FAST AND FURIOUS WITH BILLY HAVING TO HURL HIMSELF ALL OVER THE STAGE TO CATCH THE BEAN BAG.)

WILLIAM:      We ask for no sark, allow one half hour for the chewing of sandwiches, the fat and commontalk to release the pent up steam of wasted energies. Next duty: to relate yourself to the product of your labour as to an alien object. You comprehend, I ask in tones of acute anxiety?

(BY NOW BILLY IS ON HIS KNEES, EXHAUSTED).

BILLY:          Sounds great, sir.

WILLIAM:      Press ups next. (WILLIAM POCKETS THE BEAN BAG AND WALK OVER TO BILLY STRUGGLING TO DO HIS EXERCISES.) Good so far. Plenty of exercise, read no books and think only good thoughts. The job is yours.

(BILLY COLLAPSES ON THE FLOOR, WILLIAM PICKS UP HIS LEGS AND MARCHES HIM ABOUT LIKE A WHEELBARROW.)

So, get to it then, you frumptious chump or I shall have no option but to castigate. Today you’re on main count. No peeping mind.

(WILLIAM DROPS BILLY, CENTRE STAGE.)

BILLY:          Well, he’s tough but at least he’s fair. There’s more to drudgery than catapults and splattings, I know that now. I know my rut. (HE LOOKS ROUND).

WILLIAM:      No peeping.

(BILLY STARTS TO COUNT TO 100 WITH HIS EYES CLOSED. MEANWHILE WILLIAM DECIDES TO HIDE FROM HIM, PUTTING THE TABLE ON ITS SIDE AND COWERING BEHIND IT, COVERED BY THE TABLE CLOTH. BILLY FINISHES HIS COUNT AND LEAPS UP.)

BILLY:          Coming ready or not. William? Sir? Where are you? I’ve finished. Can I have my money now please? Now, where’s that twithead scarpered? Hmm – I’ll seek him. Coo-ee – I’m coming to find you.

(HE TIPTOES UP TO THE TABLE AND PEEKS ROUND THE BACK OF IT, BUT WILLIAM SLIPS AROUND THE FRONT).

Come here, I tell you – man to man. Where is he anyway? William? I need you to bounce off. Where am I for that matter? Oh yeah – keep forgetting: (BILLY WALKS TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE AND WILLIAM DODGES BEHIND THE TABLE.) Slogged out from labour I tramp off home. Darkland now, though, and guideless. Tramp home to Floozy. Floozy – hey, come on, Floozy. I’ve done my slavings. Now where’s that steaming throbjuice, eh, my little smoocher? It’s time for cuddles, right Floozy? (BILLY IS GETTING REALLY SCARED NOW) Good lark, eh, William? Floozy? Hunter’s home – ee, I’m whacked. Floozy? William? Sir? What’s going on?!

(SUDDENLY WILLIAM PUSHES OVER THE TABLE WHICH SLAMS TO THE FLOOR.)

WILLIAM:      Boo! Darling Floozy’s got bored waiting! She’s doing fuckyfucky with your bossman! Nanananana!

(BILLY IS STUNNED FOR A MOMENT, THEN EXPLODES WITH ANDER. WILLIAM RECOILS, AWARE OF HAVING GONE TOO FAR.)

BILLY: You fucking sheshit! How dare you stuffing well bluff that?!

I grind my bones for you – I dance and prance. You sciving scumbitch – I’ll screwing well give you fist, you gutter.

WILLIAM:      But I told you, that was in the game – no soppytalk, remember?

BILLY (SLAPPING WILLIAM HARD):

Old bosseyes give you a leg up, did he? (HE KNOCKS WILLIAM TO THE FLOOR AND STARTS HITTING HIM FURIOUSLY). You cuntbagwhore! You slutslagbitchwitch!

(FINALLY HE STOPS. WILLIAM IS A SNIVELLING HEAP. BILLY SITS UP, STUNNED BY WHAT HAS HAPPENED. HE STANDS UP AND WALKS FORWARD. LIGHTS FADE DOWN. MUSIC UP.)

ACT THREE

WILLIAM SITS, HUDDLED AND SNUFFLING, AT THE FRONT OF THE STAGE. BILLY STANDS OPPOSITE, ANGRY AND ASHAMED. FINALLY BILLY CATCHES WILIAM’S EYE AND LOOKS APOLOGETIC.

WILLIAM:               Well?

BILLY (DEFENSIVE AGAIN):  Well?

(A PAUSE. THEN BILLY PRODUCES A CRUMPLED PACKET OF CIGARETTES FROM HIS POCKET.)

BILLY: Ciggy, William?

WILLIAM:      Hmm.

BILLY: D’ya wanna nail?

WILLIAM:      No thank you.

BILLY: Aw – go on.

WILLIAM:      All right then.

BILLY: Oh.

WILLIAM:      What?

BILLY: I’ve er.. only got one left actually.

WILLIAM:      Oh.

BILLY: We’ll share it though, eh?

WILLIAM:      Fine.

BILLY: Right.

(BILLY LIGHTS THE CIGARETTE AND PASSES IT TO WILLIAM WHO TAKES A FEW PUFFS THEN HANDS IT BACK.)

BILLY: So, where to now then?

WILLIAM:      Hmm?

BILLY: You know: The Game. You know.

WILLIAM:      Oh – that. (HE PASSES BACK THE CIGGY)

BILLY: Well? (WILLIAM SHRUGS) How are the bruises?

WILLIAM:      Crimson. Throbbing.

BILLY:          You’ll live though, eh. You wait – you’ll be right as rain in bob’s your uncle.

WILLIAM:      Hmmf.

(PAUSE)

BILLY: Nice bit of smoke, eh? (HE HANDS BACK THE CIG.)

WILLIAM:      S’not bad.

BILLY: It’s the best Old Rope, this – a rare good hacker.

WILLIAM:      Prefer Tealeaf Red myself.

BILLY:           Oh yeah – sure. I mean, Tealeaf Red’s something else, innit. When you

can get it though, of course. But this stuff’s not half bad though, eh?

WILLIAM:     I said it’s all right. (PASSES CIG BACK TO BILLY WHO TAKES A

FINAL PUFF AND STUBS IT OUT.)

BILLY: Fancy playing on then, flower?

WILLIAM:      No!

BILLY: Aw – go on. Look, I’m really sorry.

WILLIAM:      Should bloody well hope so.

BILLY: But you did start it.

WILLIAM:      You did.

BILLY: You did.

WILLIAM:      You did.

BILLY: You did, Knobhead.

WILLIAM:      You did, Fartface.

BILLY: You did, Fuckfeatures.

WILLIAM:      Same to you with tits on.

BILLY:          Same to you with tits on and leather straps at the back and studs at the corner.

WILLIAM:      Same to you with atom bombs up yer bum.

BILLY:           Same to you with squashed tomatoes and dead slugs down your throat.

WILLIAM:     Same to you with rubber truncheons and bright lights and electric

shocks.

BILLY: Go fuck your boots.

WILLIAM:      Go stuff your head.

BILLY: Go vomit on your granny.

WILLIAM:      You pathetic little yobbed up minion.

BILLY: Shut your gob or I’ll fucking knuckle you.

WILLIAM:      Shut your own, it’s closer.

(BILLY, ABOUT TO HIT OUT, CHECKS HIMSELF).

BILLY: Come on, Jingler. I’m the lock and you’re the key, right? Let’s

be mates.

WILLIAM:      Well – all right, then.

BILLY:           Great! (BILLY EMBRACES WILLIAM MATILY, BUT WILLIAM

STILL LOOKS COLD AND RESERVED.) Great.

WILLIAM:      Right.

BILLY:          Well then – Old Bud, eh?

WILLIAM:      Sure.

BILLY:           Great. Anyway, let’s soldier on, shall we? Poor Billy on his

lonesome expect?

WILLIAM:      You bet he is!

BILLY:          Yes, well – serves me right I suppose. So, now what? You tell, William, you’re so good at telling.

WILLIAM:      Right then: “Cold and alonely you plod the streets.

BILLY:          Right. (EAGERLY BILLY ACTS THIS OUT)

WILLIAM:      Suddenly a Spitray chunders in from aloft.

BILLY:          Right.. (BILLY BECOMES THE SPITRAY)

WILLIAM:      Panic in the streets! The crowds dive for cover.

BILLY:          Right!

WILLIAM:      You make out the invader blazing a berserk path with its guns…

BILLY:          Yes! And tthen?

WILLIAM:      In an instant thee air is cut into sections by lines of tracer shells and killerbugs. “I’m going it alone” you snarl grittily into your mothpiece.

BILLY:          I’m going it alone, chaps.

(BILLY STEPS UP ONTO THE TABLE, ARMS OUTSTRETCHED.)

WILLIAM:      You speed aloft while millions swoon.

BILLY:          I speed, I speed.

WILLIAM:      But – too late. Suddenly a smithereen steeps in on a swerver; you’re blown to blazes. Bits of your innards plaster the yard. The End.

(BILLY, BY NOW UTTERLY ENGROSSED, MIMES EXPLOSIONS ETC. THEN SUDDENLY REALISES WHAT WILLIAM’S SAID. HE IS CRESTFALLEN.)

BILLY:          Oh William, I was just rattled, that’s all – come on Beamer, let’s please, please make game again.

WILLIAM:      You had no right.

BILLY:          I know.

(ANOTHER PAUSE, THEN WILLIAM HAS AN IDEA. HE PRODUCES A SHEET OF PAPER AND PEN FROM HIS POCKET AND SITS AT THE TABLE. HE DRAWS A PICTURE WHILE BILLY SITS WATCHING, BAFFLED.)

WILLIAM:      Right now, Billy, what have I drawn?

BILLY:          I don’t get this, Puzzler. Looks like a bloke with wings to me.

WILLIAM:      Excellent, Billy. A bloke with wings. Precisely. This is boy Icarus, son of Daedelus. Now, the story goes that Dad and son got locked up on this labyrinth, trapped in a scarey. They managed to get out, but they still had to get free of the island where the maze was placed. So, clever old pater knocked up two pairs of wings for them to fly away on and escape. Beautiful, beautiful wings they were, made of feathers and wax. “Don’t fly too high or the sun’ll melt you.” Says Dad to son Icarus. “Don’t fly too low or the sea’ll drown you. Follow my example close or you’ll come unstuck.” But anyway..

BILLY:          But what?

WILLIAM:      But that’s as maybe. For now the matter of this diagram is to very magically enchant us further gamewise. Are you prepared?

BILLY:          I’m man enough, sir.

WILLIAM:      Well done, my boy. First off I shall point my wand at different parts of Icarus here which I wish you to name. Comprendaroony?

(WILLIAM POINTS TO DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE PICTURE AND BILLY SAYS WHAT THEY ARE.)

BILLY:          Leg – Arm – Wing – Eye – Mouth.

WILLIAM:      Splendid. Full marks. Now, this time I repeat the pointings as I tell the story, but one part I shall not point to. Mark it well but utter it not. Store it in the cranium, right?

BILLY:          Right.

WILLIAM:      So anyway, Icarus and Daedelus take off, the wings work a treat. Icarus flaps ahead after a bit, tries all sorts of flashery. (POINTS)

BILLY:          Eyes.

WILLIAM:      Dad’s impressed. “Good stuff, son.” He shouts. “But watch out for the sea and the sun, okay?” (POINTS)

BILLY:          Mouth.

WILLIAM:      “Quit the hasslement, Dad.” Icarus yells back. “I’m a bigboy now – I can handle it.”

BILLY:          Arm.

WILLIAM:      “How dare you talk to your old man like that!” cries Daedelus. “You come back here, you young wretch,” But young Icky’s going to show him a thing or two; off he swoops, high and low, beautiful, flexing and arcing, making shapes in the air he never dreamt he could. He’s wide open wide. (POINTS)

BILLY:          Leg.

WILLIAM:      Good, Billy. Now – memorise that missing part well. And now I cadabra very magically this sheet of simple paper here and roll it up.

(WILLIAM ROLLS THE DRAWING UP INTO A TUBE).

WILLIAM:      Now Billy, put fist to fist with pointer fingers upperwards.

(BILLY HOLDS HIS HANDS OUT, ONE FINGER OF EACH HAND POINTING UPWARDS).

You have the missing word still? Utter it not still.

And next I fold the parchment so:

(WILLIAM BENDS THE TUBE AT EITHER END)

And I place it thus:

(HE PUTS EACH END OF THE TUBE OVER BILLY’S FINGERS SO THAT THE TUBE FORMS A BRIDGE BETWEEN HIS HANDS.)

Still got the word?

(BILLY NODS) Right then, I think we’re ready.

BILLY:          But what about Icarus?

WILLIAM:      Icarus? Oh yes, well – the big red sun is flaming furious, melts the wax in the wings, the feathers drop off and young Incarus plunges and pegs it. That’s all.

It’s only a story. Shall we get on?

BILLY:          If you say so.

WILLIAM:      Right now, Billy – be ready to intone the name. First the hocus pocus though:

(HE STANDS ON A BLOCK AND INTONES:)

Abracadabra, fire and water

We two boys we really oughter

Fly to quest and journey’s endm

Face the threat and find the friend.

It’s time to soar, It’s time to go.

But where? Please someone, let us KNOW.

Quick Billy – repeat the missing Icky bit over and over!

BILLY:          Wing Wing. Wing Wing. Wing Wing.

(WILLIAM LIFTS THE TUBE OFF BILLY’S FINGERS AND HOLDS IT TO HIS MOUTH LIKE A TELEPHONE RECIEVER.)

WILLIAM:      Hello? (HE PASSES IT TO BILLY) It’s for you.

(WILLIAM TURNS AWAY, SMIRKING. BILLY IS FURIOUS WITH HUMILIATION, GRIPS THE PHONE TIGHT. AND THEN STARTS TO SPEAK INTO THE ‘RECEIVER’ – WILLIAM IS DISCONCERTED.)

BILLY:          Hello? Yes – that’s me. Speaking. Yes I am alone. Solitary and desolate actually. You can speak freely. I see. A dishevelled damsel in distress is she? Uhuh. A crazed genius intent on world domination? Time is running out, is it? But tell me, how do I – hello? Hello?
(BY NOW WILLIAM IS STANDING OVER HIM WONDERING WHAT’S GOING ON.)

Our informant said “AAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!! And hung up.

(HAVING GIVEN WILLIAM A GOOD FRIGHT, BILLY LAUGHS)

WILLIAM:      Hmm. Just as I suspected, the usual twist. Billy, come Billy. It is the hour to plot thicken.

(BILLY LEAPS UP. THE TWO OF THEM STAND TOGETHER LOOKING OUT INTO THE AUDIENCE HEROICALLY. FROM NOW ON THE GAME IS PLAYED WITH NEW SERIOUSNESS, FUELLED BY THE GROWING TENSION BETWEEN THEM.

BILLY & WILLIAM:             Up and at ‘em!

BILLY:          Talk of damsels, aaarrgghs and dominations, eh. This is a job, To get the teeth into and shake about a bit. A proper challenge. Up and at ‘em, eh? Yes! I’ll boldly go now, strip off my cunning disguise of rolls of fat and sticky out ears, reveal beneath my wilk white hide: Realman! (WILLIAM STARTS TO HUM THE DAMBUSTERS THEME) Cool as a pint. Hard as sums. Oh yes, the struggle’s been hard. Oh yes, I’ve acne-ed and fumbled, had my voice broken into a billion pieces. But what is a man, what has he got, if not the biggest ever, a fast job and attractive prospects, a licence to stomp or a supersonic mechanism with chrome underpins and all the functions? I’ll not kneel. I’ll do just what a man’s gotta. (BILLY STEPS GRANDLY ONTO THE TABLE, FACING THE AUDIENCE). Leave my cave glowing and strong like a morning sun emerging from behind dark mountains. William: fly me.

WILLIAM:      Aye aye, Cap’n.

BILLY:          Narrate me, Underling.

WILLIAM STANDS BENEATH BILLY

WILLIAM:      Billy climbed into the cockpit. An instant later the engine roared into life and the crate moved forward. (BILLY MAKES MOTOR NOISES, MIMES FLYING THE PLANE.) In a twinkling it was in the air. (WILLIAM HOLDS OUT HIS ARMS LIKE WINGS) Swinging round in a wide turn towards the ever threatening hills. Behind him lay the shattered popguns and stale chewing gum of childhood. Doubts assailed him. Billy eased the control columns forward and tore on, annihilating distance. Suddenly a smithereens steeps in on a swerver, hitting the crate where it hurts. He struggles as always to retain control.

(BILLY MIMES HIS ATTEMPT TO SAVE HIS CRAFT)

But to no avail. The trusty crate buckles like a punctured ego. Our hero hurls free.

(BILLY JUMPS ONTO A BLOCK, FREEZES WITH ARMS UP AS THOUGH FREEFALLING THROUGH SPACE).

He hangs like a cliff at the abyss of death. He drops, like a shattered defence to the void below.

(BILLY ASSUMES THE POSITION OF A PARACHUTIST).

But a passing miracle breaks his fall.

(BILLY DROPS TO THE GROUND, LOOKS AROUND HIM, ACTS OUT THE STORY WHICH WILLIAM TELLS).

Landing on his feet as ever, he dusts himself off and starts into the foliage. He finds himself lost in the middle of a dark wood. Stepping out into the heathen warmth, he freezes. Whisperings in the undergrowth. (BILLY MAKES SPOOKY NOISES)

The smell of rats – the chill of blood. He curdles at a shriek.

(BILLY YELPS, PETRIFIED), Something unutterable shivers in the distance. In red hot pursuit, Intrepid Hero bounds on in.

(WILLIAM BENDS OVER AND BILLY LEAPFROGS OVER HIM THEN BENDS DOWN FOR WILLIAM TO LEAP. AS EACH JUMPS HE SPEAKS AND THEY LEAPFROG ROUND THE STAGE.)

BILLY:          Over the top.

WILLIAM:      Into the Badlands.

BILLY:          Where are we going?

WILLIAM:      Haven’t the foggiest.

(BOTH FREEZE, CLING TO EACH OTHER AS THEY LOOK AROUND)

BILLY:          It’s getting dark.

WILLIAM:      Home time, Billy?

BILLY:          You’ve got to be kidding.

WILLIAM:      What is it that lurks here?

BILLY:          I’ll chop it whatever.

WILLIAM:      Billy.

BILLY:          William.

WILLIAM:      There’s something here, I can feel it.

BILLY: What?

WILLIAM:      Dark things- threatenings – baddies. Oh crikey – I’m shitless.

BILLY: Hey – c0me on. What is it? I don’t think I’m going to like this bit.

WILLIAM:      Come on Billy, don’t gobsmack on me at a time like this. Where’s the banter?

BILLY:          Don’t you suppose I’m yellowing, Sunshine. This Threat gives us any mouth and I’ll whap it on the nut and crack it. Jab bangers up its jacksy, right?

WILLIAM:      Yikes, Billy – c’mon. Let’s just leggit quick.

BILLY:          No. Go fetch a beamer and we’ll hunt this out.

(WILLIAM NERVOUSLY TIPTOES TO THE BACK OF THE STAGE TO FETCH THE TWO COKE CANS, ONE OF WHICH HE HANDS TO BILLY. THEY HOLD THE CANS LIKE TORCHES OR KNIVES IN A STREETFIGHT, SEARCHING AROUND THEM FOR THEIR ENEMY.)

BILLY:          Good work, lad – these’ll shine us. You go flank; we’ll wade on in.

(WILLIAM TIPTOES OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STAGE. HE SPINS ROUND SUDDENLY THINKING HE’S HEARD SOMETHING.)

WILLIAM:      Come on, let’s just scarper.

BILLY:          I’ll thump you if you yellow out.

WILLIAM:      It’s getting closer.

BILLY:          Come out you rotten skulker!

WILLIAM:      Careful, Billy, careful.

BILLY (FRIGHTENED): What is it, William?

WILLIAM:      “Out of the dark the creepy crawls.”

BILLY (FRANTIC):     But what is it? Name it!

(SUDDENLY HE RUNS OFF STAGE DOWN THE CENTRE AISLE, SHOUTING)

Big dad come to fuck us over? Kill the bastard. Kill the bastard.

WILLIAM:      Nightlurker – after stories, after lights out – flash of teeth at the heart of the softness.

BILLY (HEADING BACK T0WARDS THE STAGE):

Floozythreat? Grab it, they tell you – grab it and have it. So I grab it and look what: she feels, hurts, just like me.

WILLIAM (POINTING AT BILLY):

Buddythreat – keep sharp against him.

BILLY:          Give him an inch,

WILLIAM:      He’ll steal your fire. Don’t get too close.

BILLY:          But I’m scared, William. The bruiser’s going to slam me to a pus of gristle. Toecaps and razors – a right proper slaying.

WILLIAM:      I’ll buy it off – I have a card about my person explaining this; on the dotted line I have protection: ‘in the incidence of terror this snot’s immune’. It’s signed etcetera, stamped and sealed. Forces of authority, friends in high places. (HE SHOUTS OUT TO THE THREAT). You get the jist, O kicker of sand? (SILENCE. THEN HE PANICS, COWERING ON THE GROUND).

Help, Billy, help. Where are the fucking cavalry??

(WILLIAM HUDDLES, WHIMPERING. SLOWLY BILLY WALKS BACK TO THE STAGE. LOOKING AROUND HIM WITH HIS BEAMER, HE’S NO LONGER AFRAID. HE POINTS THE BEAMER AT WILLIAM, THEN TOUCHES HIM ON THE SHOULDER.)

BILLY:          You’re it.

(BUT WILLIAM LEAPS UP AND TOUCHES HIM BACK).

WILLIAM (FRIGHTENED AND VENEMOUS):         No – you’re it.

(A GAME OF TAG ENSUES, PLAYED WITH DEADLY SERIOUSNESS. ONE MUST TOUCH THE OTHER BEFORE SAYING THEIR LINE.)

BILLY:          I turn into a bullet and aim for your heart.

(HE CHARGES AT WILLIAM WHO DODGES HIM AND TAPS HIM ON THE ARM).

WILLIAM:      I turn into wind and I carry you harmless.

BILLY:          I turn into a submarine. (HE GRABS WILLIAM AND HURLS HIM AWAY). And charge up the depths of you.

WILLIAM:      I turn into a movement – and I disarm you.

BILLY:          I turn into a tank – and I crush you.

WILLIAM:      I turn into a shout AND I DEAFEN YOU!

BILLY:          I turn into rules – (HE GAGS WILLIAM WITH THE TABLE CLOTH) and I gag you.

WILLIAM:      I turn you into freedom and I resist you.

BILLY:          I turn into torture – and I mangle you.

(HE GRABS WILLIAM’S ARM AND TWISTS IT).

WILLIAM:      I turn into love and I soften you.

(HE HOLDS BILLY AND GIVES HIM A LONG KISS).

BILLY:          I turn into a hammer – (HE GRABS HOLD OF A BLOCK AND PREPARES TO HIT WILLIAM WITH IT). And I smash you.

WILLIAM:      I turn into your shame – (BILLY FREEZES). And I haunt you. I haunt you.

(SLOWLY BILLY PUTS DOWN THE BLOCK. BOTH ARE EXHAUSTED BY NOW. THE GAME SEEMS TO BE OVER. NEITHEROF THEM ARE SURE WHAT TO DO NEXT, OR WHERE THE GAME HAS LEFT THEM. WILLIAM STARTS TO TIDY UP, PUTTING THE TABLE BACK IN PLACE.)

WILLIAM:      Well then –

BILLY:          Well.

(BOTH SIT AT THE TABLE).

BILLY:          Well then – now what, eh?

WILLIAM:      Good sport, eh?

BILLY:          I’ve had worse I must say.

WILLIAM:      Great stuff.

So – here we are then.

BILLY:          Yup.

WILLIAM:      Dark one that scarey bit, eh?

BILLY:          Frightened was you?

WILLIAM:      Course not.

BILLY:          I was.

WILLIAM:      So was I.

BILLY:          Same here.

(PAUSE)

BILLY:          So that’s it, then?

WILLIAM:      I reckon.

BILLY:          So, where’s this damsel then? The booty?

WILLIAM:      Games, remember. You know – just pretend.

BILLY:          Yeah. No damsel then. No breast to press my head against. No throb for heart to beat to? You promised.

WILLIAM:      fingers crossed of course.

BILLY:          Yeah. But I thought, me and her, we could chat and that, let slip a bit – you know. Like with Floozy, I suppose, but this time I’d try a little harder, softer even. You know – the things we two never say, us always ribbing and thumping and laddoes and that. I thought with her I might – let up a bit – you know.

WILLIAM:      Let up what, then, Billy? Spill and tell.

BILLY:          Nah – couldn’t possibly. These are tremblingy things – you know, special.

WILLIAM:      C’mon, you can spill with me. And me with you. Same difference really – just human beans in the can of worms, eh!

BILLY:          Nah.

WILLIAM:      C’mon.

BILLY:          No – you’d call me softy.

WILLIAM:      Now would I, Billy my old doormat? We’re as close as that already. C’mon, disclose a fraction.

BILLY:          Nah.

WILLIAM:      Come on.

BILLY:          well – all right then. I mean we are best mates.

(THEY REACH OUT TO EACH OTHER ACROSS THE TABLE, CLASP HANDS. BILLY LOOKS AT WILLIAM OPENS HIS MOUTH TO SPEAK, THEN WILLIAM TIGHTENS HIS GRIP AND SMILES TRIUMPHANTLY.)

WILLIAM:      You bloody softy!

(BILLY IS FURIOUS, GRIPS WILLIAM’S HAND AND STARTS ARMWRESTLING HIM. HE SLAMS WILLIAM’S ARM DOWN ON THE TABLE).

BILLY:          I won.

WILLIAM:      Just you wait.

PAUSE

BILLY:          Good flicker on at the Pintpot later.

WILLIAM:      Yes?

BILLY:          ‘Lips 2’ – Spicy stuff. Thought I might partake.

WILLIAM:      Oh yes.

BILLY:          Anyway…

WILLIAM:      Got tomes to read myself. Another time perhaps.

BILLY:          S’fine with me.

(BILLY SETS UP A COKE CAN, STARTS IDLY FLICKING CARDS AT IT.)

WILLIAM:      Now what then?

BILLY:          Go home, maybe, watch the conflict.

WILLIAM:      Whose on?

BILLY:          Shithead Smith v Whopper Williams in the Semis. Should be a good strife. Odds on Whopper, I reckon.

WILLIAM:      But Shithead has the edge when it comes to the Graunch.

BILLY:          Reckon? Should be a good ‘un.

WILLIAM:      Marvellous.

BILLY:          Thumping stuff.

WILLIAM:      Quite so.

(LIGHTS FADE DOWN. MUSIC UP.)