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Vol. 4, No. 4

Billy and the Crab Lady
by Holly Phillips

Scene One

Living room. Loud music is playing. FRED sits on the sofa, beer can in hand. There is a suitcase on the floor. BRI enters.

BRI: [shouting] Whose suitcase is this?

FRED: What?

BRI: Whose suitcase is--

FRED: Can't hear you, mate.

BRI: I wanted to know-- [Beat.] Will you turn the music off?

FRED: Just a mouth opening and closing, that's all I'm getting--

BRI: Well, if you turned the music off.

[Music stops abruptly.]

FRED: Thought I'd turn the music off. So I can hear you, like.

BRI: Great, thanks. I don't see why you need to inflict your--

FRED: You're such an old lady, Bri.

BRI: Whose suitcase is this?

FRED: Oh, that . . . That's Kat's.

BRI: What the--

FRED: Kat, our new housemate.

BRI: Our new? Fred, could you--

FRED: You said we need a new housemate, so I got us a new housemate. Voilą.

BRI: What'd you do, pick one up at Safeway?

FRED: I placed an advertisement in the newspaper. I interviewed potential candidates. I chose a suitable housemate slash tenant kind of thing, procured a deposit--shall I continue?

BRI: So where did you really find her?

FRED: I said--

BRI: Fred where?

FRED: Camden.

BRI: Camden. Wearing a cardboard necklace claiming she was hungry and homeless and you thought, out of the goodness of your heart, that you'd help.

FRED: I'm not soft . . . it was in the World's End if you have to know every bastard detail.

BRI: That's a good omen.

FRED: I was having a DRINK after WORK.

BRI: It didn't occur that I might want to meet the person I'm going to be living with?

FRED: She's fit mate, well fit. I gave her a tenner off per week.

BRI: Fred, Jesus. I can't afford to pay more rent just coz you want some bird to have the room.

FRED: Don't worry, mate, I'll sort it. I mean she's got this crappy job and she can't afford to pay any more.

BRI: I've got a crappy job. [He notices a white cat on the sofa.] And what the fuck is that?

FRED: I was getting to that.

BRI: Well, what--

FRED: Now Bri, remember biology . . . when you were studying mammals--

BRI: I know it's a bloody cat, but what is it doing on our sofa?

FRED: Having a little kip. It's probably a bit tired after the move an' all.

BRI: I'm allergic to cats, Fred.

FRED: Well, see, that's the thing I was about to tell you. This here is a special nonallergic cat. See, I said to our new housemate slash tenant slash potential shag-type person. I said, now you can't bring a cat into this house as Bri, poor soul, is allergic, and she said to me--

BRI: Fuck up, Fred.

FRED: You can't kick it out, look at it. Well cute.

BRI: I get a rash, I sneeze, me eyes go green. It's nasty.

FRED: It's not her fault. You see when she was living in this bedsit, right, one evening, curled up in bed, she heard this "mew, mew, mew." And right--

BRI: I don't care how she got the thing. I'm still allergic.

FRED: It's psychological anyhow, this allergy thing.

BRI: You didn't even ask me. You're such a cunt. We should discuss these things.

FRED: Honestly, mate, she's well fit.

Scene Two

KAT sits in the middle of the sofa, on one side of her is BRI, on the other, FRED.

BRI: So how long have you been there for?

[He sneezes.]

KAT: Only a month. I just make tea and stuff but it's better than tele-sales.

BRI: Yeah. I mean a film company is a film company even if you're just making tea. I thought you could only get those jobs through nepotism.

KAT: Well, I think shagging the boss's son was more beneficial career-wise than my film degree if that's what you mean.

FRED: See, Bri, you've got to go for stuff in your life. Make your decision and go for it. Do whatever it takes. You could learn something from this girl.

KAT: I wouldn't recommend it. He was no great shakes.

[BRI sneezes again.]

BRI: No one wants to shag me.

FRED: Is your room all right, nice an' that?

KAT: Fine . . . Bri, are you sure you're okay about Jumper? I didn't know you were allergic. Fred never--

BRI: It's fine. Totally fine.

[He tries to suppress another sneeze. Makes a weird snorting noise instead.]

BRI: It's a cold, that's all--

FRED: Coz my room is really spacious and if you ever, you know--

BRI: I think it's only certain cats I'm allergic to.

KAT: Good, I don't want to make you ill.

FRED: I've got an excellent stereo, Denon. If you want to listen to anything on it--

BRI: So he wasn't any good, then?

KAT: Who?

BRI: The boss's son, in bed?

KAT: Formulaic, to put it mildly.

FRED: Got me bed from Harrods, coz, when you're earning as much as me--

KAT: Must be hard.

FRED: What?

KAT: Having all that money and not knowing what to spend it on. Must be quite traumatic for you.

FRED: It is. It really is.

BRI: There should be a help line or something.

FRED: I like to spend it on people around me. I mean, it's no good having it if you can't help out the less fortunate.

KAT: So true. [Beat.] Anyway a pile of boxes and suitcases are awaiting me upstairs.

FRED: Have another beer first.

BRI: Unpacking can wait.

FRED: Cup of tea. Set you up nicely.

KAT: Nah, got to get it done.

[She exits. BRI and FRED look a little deserted.]

FRED: Lovely girl.

BRI: She's got a really nice personality.

FRED: You're such a sap, mate.

Scene Three

BRI sits at one end of the sofa, KAT at the other. FRED is passed out on the floor. There are beer cans around and they have been drinking.

BRI: I only met you yesterday.

KAT: So, perfect way to get to know each other.

BRI: I think if I tell you too much about myself I'll sound like a twat.

KAT: That's the point, find out each other's fuckups now so we'll be prepared later on. Did it in my first student house.

BRI: Did it work? Did you all feel "bonded"?

KAT: Well, Mike moved out once he realized Steve was gay and then Steve moved out as he'd only moved in to get a shag out of Mike, but other than that . . . [Beat.] Oh, there was the Sally and Tina thing but we don't talk about that.

BRI: So, basically, it was a complete disaster.

KAT: Go on . . .

BRI: No.

KAT: I'll go first.

BRI: Go on, then.

KAT: Urmmm, always jump into bed with people I shouldn't. Get bored easily. My friends think I have a male attitude to sex. Plan to stop jumping into bed with people I shouldn't, with particular reference to cocky little tossers who think they've done me a favor. [Beat.] Since graduating I've done bar work, tele-sales, waitressing. Had a job as a gardener once but was very bad. Got sacked when I blew up the lawn mower. It was a ciggy-petrol kinda thing. [Beat.] Plan to make new job big success. Want to become big film producer and make good films coz shit films are shit. Want to ban anything starring Kevin Costner, rid the world of films like Stepmom and disembowel Gwyneth Paltrow on account of her irritating me. [Beat.] Your turn.

BRI: Is that it?

KAT: It's enough.

BRI: Oh.

KAT: Disappointed?

BRI: Well . . .

KAT: Your turn.

BRI: Right, so I'm useless. Useless, pointless, inefficient, inarticulate, uncommunicative, undesirable. I'm a nonachiever, a no-hoper, a washed-out, used-up, sad excuse. I'm a bad night out, a two-second shag, a warm lager, I think you're getting the picture. [Beat.] But you know, I'm used to it that way. I've become quite comfortable existing on the edge of things. And I'm good at it. I have a particular talent for spending hours on end doing nothing and getting nowhere. It isn't easy you know, staying still. Most people progress automatically. But not me, I'm progressing nowhere, and I'm good at it.

KAT: But . . . there must be something you want? Something you want so much it virtually paralyzes you when you think about it. There has to be.

BRI: Maybe.

KAT: Tell.

BRI: I don't know yet. I don't know how badly I want it yet.

KAT: So, tell me anyway.

BRI: Leave a guy with a little dignity.

Scene Four

Morning. BRI, KAT, and FRED are drinking cans of Red Bull (a caffeinated energy drink).

KAT: So you've known each other how long?

BRI: Seems like forever.

FRED: He was the geeky one at uni, had to take him under me wing.

KAT: You're just so giving, Fred.

FRED: I know, but what ya gonna do, leave the poor chap to spend his weekends in the bastard library?

BRI: I'd read all the books.

KAT: Jesus, someone who actually studied for his degree.

BRI: That's how we became mates. Fred hadn't read a word and couldn't be arsed to. He figured if he brought me a beer I'd tell him what he needed to know. He was right; I'm easily brought. If I'd played harder to get I might've got some decent drugs out of the arrangement.

FRED: Well, books don't get you anywhere. It's life experience, that's what counts. The school of life, that's where I learnt what I needed to know.

KAT: It shows.

FRED: Man of the world, me.

KAT: [to BRI] Does he always talk like this?

BRI: Can't help himself.

FRED: Your problem, Bri, is ya insecurity, that's the thing. And ya have to take it out on me. Sad really. You know, I respect Bri, I do--

BRI: It's just that you think I'm a skint loser who wastes his time reading books.

FRED: Well, yeah, but like, opposites attract.

BRI: Fuck up, Fred.

FRED: [to KAT] He gets like this. [to BRI] Don't ya?

KAT: So, is it the sexual chemistry between you that causes all this bickering?

FRED: I told you you couldn't shag me arse, Bri, LEARN to LIVE with it.

BRI: Fred thinks everybody wants to sleep with him.

KAT: Oh, one of them.

FRED: What?

KAT: Nothing, Fred. Don't you worry your pretty head.

FRED: Well, you haven't experienced the Fred "lurrvvve" machine.

BRI: How is the Fred "love" machine now? Back in good health?

FRED: Fucking tops, mate. All sorted out. All ready to hit the road and distribute some pleasure.

KAT: What's all sorted out?

BRI: Long story.

KAT: Better tell me later. I'll be late for work.

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