SCENE: DOROTHY'S STORY CAN BE PERFORMED JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE. WHEN FIRST PLAYED IT WAS SET IN A
HAIRDRESSING SALON BUT WAS SUBSEQUENTLY SET IN DOROTHY'S LIVING ROOM WITH JUST A TABLE AND CHAIR.
THE STAGE IS EMPTY TO START AND DOROTHY WALKS ON TO A MUSIC INTRO OF ANY SUITABLE PIECE OF MUSIC. PLEASE TRY TO AVOID THE FAMILIAR REFRAIN FROM DVORAK'S 'NEW WORLD SYMPHONY'; (HOVIS
ADVERT) THE LIGHTING IS LEFT TO THE DIRECTOR'S IMAGINATION.
I murdered my husband you know. I dare say you'll find it difficult to believe. Even I can't believe it some days. You wouldn't credit it to look at me. I'm the very image of respectability. So why am I telling you? It doesn't matter anymore; they can't do anything about it now. There's no evidence you see. Let me tell you about my husband: he was the most useless man that ever lived. Wouldn't do a thing round the house. About the only thing he was good
at was watching football, (BEAT) (Ground of your choice) every other Saturday (BEAT) oh, and gardening. He used to have this allotment. Spent every waking hour up there. He took to gardening with a kind of religious fervour. It was as if God had spoken to him:
(ASSUMES DEEP VOICE)
"Alan Robinson you will take up your spade, venture forth to the council allotments and grow vegetables. You will forsake your wife and children because this is my will."
Not that he needed much persuading. He used to come home bearing arms full of vegetables that he then expected to be cooked and on the table within the hour. You know what? I used to take his vegetables: his potatoes, his carrots, his peas, his cauliflowers, his cabbages and throw the lot in the bin. I'd then serve up his meat and
Yorkshire puddings with vegetables I'd bought at Tesco. (BEAT) Childish, I know. He'd sit at the table stuffing his self-satisfied face and saying things like,
(ASSUMES MALE VOICE)
"I don't care what you say, you can't beat home grown vegetables."
I'd think what a twat! You'd think he'd notice but he never did. I don't think he ever tasted a vegetable he'd grown
himself; he certainly never cooked any. To be honest I can only remember him ever coming into the kitchen once and I think then it was a mistake. We hadn't been in the house long and I'm sure he'd just got lost. He stood there and looked around in an awed silence; he had the sort of look you see on people's faces in a cathedral. He looked at me as if to say 'So this is where you spend your time', and drifted out again.
Another time he came into the kitchen and asked me where the fridge was! You might wonder why I didn't just leave him? It wasn't so easy with four young kiddies. But I thought about it. Believe me I thought about it often. Every day I thought about it and never more so than when I met someone. His name was David. He was lovely was David. He was kind, and soft, and gentle - not the slightest bit interested in gardening. We were so in love. It was
a love affair; it wasn't just about sex (BEAT) although that was good! We saw each other secretly, once, or twice a week if we were lucky, for three or four months. He wanted me to leave and go off with him but the kids were young and, well,(BEAT) you know how it is.It didn't last of course - it couldn't last. He found out eventually (BEAT) Percy bloody Thrower (BEAT) that's what David used to call him. "How's Percy today?" he'd say. "Tending his leeks?" and
the corner of his mouth would turn up in a cheeky little smile. He had a lovely smile.
Even now, years later, I can close my eyes and see him looking at me. Smiling at me, (BEAT) wanting me. And I'd forget everything for an hour or two. Alan was all bullish about it when he found out. I forget how it happened, not that it matters. Called me all the names under the sun. What he wasn't going to do with this chap who'd dared to defile his wife wasn't worth thinking about. He ranted and raved for hours. I sent the kids round to my Mum's
in the end. They must have told her an awful tale 'cos she turned up to see what was happening. He sent her off with a right mouthful. On and on he went until I couldn't stand it any more; I walked down the hall put on my coat and a scarf and was halfway down the path before he realised what I was doing. I'd never seen him move so fast. He beat me to the gate and stood there looking at me. He was all contrite when he thought I was leaving; went down on his hands and knees and begged me to stay - said he'd be lost without me. Tears were streaming down
his face. The only other time I'd seen him cry was when vandals got on the allotment one night and dug up his precious marrow. Anyway, I went back in and we had a cup of tea. Of course, I never told him I'd only been going to the corner shop for a pint of milk.
I couldn't leave. Poor David, he couldn't understand it. How could I say I loved him so much and then not take this opportunity for us to be together? Was it the kids? Well of course it was. If I'd just me to think about I'd have been gone like a shot from a gun.
He told me, 'He'd look after them and bring them up as his own'. And he would have. I know he would have. He was a lovely man. A gentleman. He had to go away in the end; we were tearing each other apart. We couldn't exist in the same town anymore. We were forever bumping into each other. It was awful, so in the end he went. I cried every day for a week when I realised he'd gone. I hadn't realised how much it was keeping me going just
seeing him across the road; or knowing that, despite the pain, I might just catch a glimpse of him.
So that was it. I'd missed the boat; burnt my bridges. I'd done my duty. Call it what you like, I'd done it with a vengeance. It's all very well putting duty first but you've got a duty to yourself too. Duty doesn't look after you in old
age. I never saw him again. I heard a few years later that he'd moved to Manchester and got married and then divorced a few years after that. Nothing much really happened after he went. Alan carried on watching football and growing vegetables that I'd put in the bin. I went to a few evening classes and just withered away. I met a man at the Tech. who wanted to take glamour photos of me; I was tempted, but in the end decided it would only be more trouble. The kids grew up and lived their own lives as they do. Simon and James got good jobs locally. Penny married a Doctor and moved to Plymouth. Which only left Andrew, the youngest, at home but he soon moved out once Alan realised he was gay. I'd known for years but Alan didn't see it until he started bringing boys home. You wouldn't have known by looking at him though, big strong lad he was, played Rugger and all sorts. There was nothing limp-wristed about Andrew. He broke his father's heart. Serves him right; he broke my mine.
And then shortly after Andrew left his father had a routine medical and they found something; there is a God after all! The G.P. told me in confidence he suspected Asbestosis. No cure apparently. Once the specialist confirmed it we just settled back to wait. It didn't change him though, he still went down to his allotment every day, still brought home the veggies and still they went in the bin. But, eventually it made him weaker; he spent longer and longer in bed and the time came when he stayed there. I moved out and into the spare room, I couldn't stand his coughing and wheezing. I remember looking at him one day and thinking, "You're taking an awful long time over this."
He used to fret about his allotment; who'd look after it when he'd gone. I thought who gives a bugger, but I'd squeeze his hand and reassure him. Hey, you must think me really wicked. He used to look up into my face - about the only time he ever did look up to me - and ask if he was going to get better. I'd look him straight in the eye and say 'Of course love, you'll turn the corner soon.' And all the time I was wishing he'd get on with it and die, and leave me in peace. Well we waited - three months passed, and then we got to the six-month mark and the bugger howed no signs of going. I know it sounds awful but I wanted it over and done with. I wanted the house back to myself. I'd decided the first thing to go were all those gardening books and magazines. In the end I decided to give nature a nudge and help him on his way. I went down to the shed on his allotment and found some weed killer that didn't
smell too strong and put a bit in his dinner each day. And do you know what? The bugger seemed to thrive on it. I had to keep upping the dose - I was dreading a post-mortem; he was that full of the stuff I expected all his organs to have melted away.
One morning after he'd been in bed just over a year, I went into his room with a cup of tea and he'd gone. The Doctor said it was for the best but I was a bag of nerves until he'd signed the certificate. I didn't know what to do about his body. All those months he'd spent in bed he made me promise several times that he wouldn't be cremated
- he had this fear of being burnt alive. I'd reassure him that there was absolutely no danger of that happening.
I couldn't have him buried though - even though I rather liked the idea of the worms having him. I mean if someone became suspicious they could dig him up and find I'd poisoned him. But if I had him cremated I'd didn't want his ashes on the mantelpiece forever more. I supposed I could have always left him where he was but I'd plans for that
It was then I remembered what he'd said a few days before he'd died. I'd sat with him for 15 minutes - I couldn't stand being with him any longer - and he'd held my hand, ever so quiet he was, which was how I liked him. Then he looked at me and said, "You'll be in charge love when I've gone. Will you be able to cope?"
And he was right. It was my turn to be in charge. My turn to make the decisions so, (BEAT) I had the
bugger burnt. And because he'd been a (Team of choice) supporter, I had his ashes scattered in the
goalmouth - at (Rival ground). It was a simple enough mistake.
Anyway that was 6 months ago and I'm courting again; at my age, I ask you. We go dancing occasionally and to the pictures. He's asked me to marry him. I haven't decided yet. We're going for a drive into the country this afternoon - for tea and buns. I'll let him know then. I probably will. I've nothing to lose really; there's plenty of that weed killer left.
Copyright (c) Chris Gallagher