A Wake

by robhayeswritesplays

The smoking area outside a pub.

Pete, is stood by himself wearing black, sipping from a pint of beer and smoking a cigarette.

A shorter man, Trevor, also wearing black and holding a bottle, ambles near him. He puts a cigarette in his mouth, then pats himself down for a lighter.

Pete offers his. Trevor takes it with a nod. Lights his cigarette, hands it back.

TREVOR Very sad isn’t it?

PETE Hm? Oh, yes. Tragic.

TREVOR Tragic, that’s the word for it. Yeah. Tragic. All those sad faces in there. I really felt for them. They all looked so sad, didn’t they?

TREVOR pulls a sad face.

TREVOR Like that. God bless ’em.

Pete nods.

TREVOR I feel sorry for the children.

PETE hmmn.

TREVOR Grandkids growing up without a granddaddy. Having to make do with a grandmother who ain’t a barrel of laughs. Let’s face it. Even with all this going on. Give us a smile love, we’ve come all the way out here.

Pause. They smoke.

TREVOR And they said there’d be a buffet.

PETE Did they?

TREVOR Yeah. On the invitation. Said there’d be a buffet.

PETE Hm.

TREVOR Probably forgot, with everything else going on.

PETE Probably grieving.

TREVOR Yeah. Too busy weeping their little hearts out to get it sorted.

PETE It happens, time like this. People forget things.

TREVOR Still, doesn’t take much to chop up a few sarnies. Couple of scotch eggs.

PETE Well.

TREVOR: Know what I mean though? They’ve had the morning to get some cheese and pineapple chunks on the go. That’s all we’re asking for really.

PETE Usually be a caterer sorted all that out.

TREVOR Exactly, it’s only a phone call. I know a couple of lads would’ve done the job no problem. Appreciated a pay day and all.

PETE Probably the grief. Slipped through the net.

TREVOR Aye that’s one way of looking at it.

PETE How do you mean?

TREVOR All’s I’m saying is. He wasn’t exactly the Duke of Westminster was he? Judging by this place. Fucking hell. Reminds me of being back in borstal. Kind of suits the mood though, you know? Welcome to the most depressing pub in England. Most people would still be crying even if they weren’t at a fucking wake.

PETE Never liked funerals. They’re so morbid.

TREVOR Give them a break now. You just chucked your husband into a furnace, you don’t wanna go on to a cocktail party at bloody TGI Fridays.

PETE No. Just saying it always seems like a bit of a waste of money.

TREVOR I’d be inclined to agree with you. I just think a buffet is a minimum requirement. Bring people out here.

Pause. Pete finishes his cigarette.

TREVOR I’ll be alright. I found some dry roasted peanuts in the glove box. But people will be thinking about supper soon enough. She’s doing herself a disservice. You watch. ‘Oh, I’d love to stay, but I’d better get a casserole in the oven.’ This place will be completely dead by half seven.

PETE Sooner the better. I reckon.

TREVOR Ah, you really want these things to go on past ten. She’d have booked this room out for the night so it really is a false economy to deprive your guests.

PETE It’s a formality. You have to have one because everyone else does.

TREVOR And I suppose we’d all be slung in a ditch if it was up to you.

PETE By all means make a big song and dance about it. So long as you’ve done something worth celebrating. You heard the er. The guy.

TREVOR The priest.

PETE Thirty four years as a plumber, then he gets knocked off his bike. End of. Oh, and he enjoyed the odd round of golf. We’re not talking Nelson Mandela here are we?

TREVOR Yeah. He weren’t exactly Mother Theresa.

PETE He wasn’t. You know. Nelson Mandela.

Trevor shrugs.

TREVOR Excuse to have a few beers and share some memories. Get all your old pals together in one place.

PETE You know people here then do you?

TREVOR No. You?

PETE Nope.

TREVOR Not a soul. It’s all quite awkward really.

PETE Spent most of it out here.

TREVOR Ah now, I’ve done the rounds. Just wanted to find out what the bloody hell’s going on with this buffet. Given up now though. Whole thing’s a shambles.

Beat.

TREVOR And the bar’s out of pork scratchings. Absolutely no communication between the various parties.

PETE Look at the minibus debacle.

TREVOR Exactly. Half the guests stood out in the pissing rain, just to get carted off to some dreary little back room without so much as a disc of salami for sustenance. I mean come on. Bit of thought. We’re missing a meal being here. Twenty minutes around Iceland would’ve done it.

PETE If you’re going to Iceland you’ve got to factor in defrosting time. And that can vary. Particularly if things need heating up as well.

TREVOR I’m not asking for high tea at the Ritz you know. Just a few nibbles. Keep the wolves from the door.

PETE You can’t take a chicken tikka skewer straight from the fridge. Even mini sausage rolls have to be warmed through once. That’s a caterer’s job.

TREVOR I should give her my number. Could’ve sorted something no problem.

PETE Your area is it?

TREVOR I’ve got my fingers in a few different pies.

PETE Right. You a baker then?

TREVOR No. I mean the nature of my work is multi-faceted.

Trevor hands Pete his card from his back pocket.

TREVOR I oversee a variety of city-wide operations. Facilitating the transportation of commercial and industrial units from a geographical perspective.

PETE ‘Man with van’.

TREVOR That’s the industry term for it, yeah.

PETE ‘Trevor’.

TREVOR That’s my van right there.

Trevor points.

PETE What, the one that says Trevor’s Van on it?

TREVOR No the other one. The blue one. Not sure who’s that one is. Do you need anything moving?

PETE Not that I can think of, no.

TREVOR Oh. Can I have that back then? I’ve only got a few left.

Pete hands Trevor his card back.

TREVOR Business is a bit slow. Seems that everyone’s happy with where their stuff is at the moment. As soon as everyone wants their stuff put somewhere else, well that’s boom time as far as I’m concerned.

PETER I can imagine.

TREVOR Do you know anyone who might need something moving?

PETE Not of the top of my head

TREVOR Don’t be put off by the size of the van. I do small stuff as well. I once drove a teapot to Cardiff.

PETE Really can’t think of anything.

TREVOR Hm. You’re not alone there.

PETE We have our own vans for that stuff.

TREVOR I see. What’s your line of work then?

PETE I’m a utilities supply manager.

TREVOR Oh. Do you mind if we talk about something else?

PETE Fair enough. Boring, isn’t it?

TREVOR I wouldn’t know. Don’t really fancy finding out though.

PETE No point in pushing a conversation where it doesn’t want to go.

TREVOR You’re pissing into the wind if you do.

PETE People always try and force it, don’t they?

TREVOR Do you remember growing up. Anyone could approach you in the street and just start chatting away to you, even if you were a complete stranger?

PETE Yeah.

TREVOR Fucking glad those days are over.

PETE Waste of time if you ask me.

TREVOR All that effort just to end up dead in a box. Alone. Two dozen stragglers standing around a grim little boozer, talking about their holidays and moaning about the lack of canapes.

PETE Only thing worse than funerals. Weddings.

TREVOR You don’t like weddings?

PETE They’re arrogant. It’s an arrogant thing to do.

TREVOR I tell you one thing, you’re guaranteed a proper three course meal at a wedding. Free bar if there’s a bit of this going round.

Trevor rubs his fingers together.

TREVOR Nice piece of cake. I always feel guilty not knowing people at a wedding. Like I have to earn my place. A funeral’s different, it’s like a surprise party. You want it to be as busy as possible and don’t care who turns up. Sometimes I think I’m doing them a favour. Making up the numbers a bit, you know. That’s why I had no qualms about coming here, even though I never met the guy.

PETE How’s that then?

TREVOR Funny really. I got one of his kidneys.

PETE Piss off.

TREVOR Swear on my life mate.

PETE I got his other one.

TREVOR Shut up now.

Pete lifts up his shirt and shows his scar.

TREVOR Well fuck me sideways. Ha ha! So you’re AB negative as well?

PETE That I am. That I am.

TREVOR It’s been the bane of my life this blood type.

PETE Tell me about it.

TREVOR We’re resilient fuckers, aren’t we! There was this one lad. Stabbed outside his house. Fell into a coma and I got the phone call. Well, I was rubbing my hands. Bought a bottle of champagne and everything. Two weeks later, he wakes up. Two fucking weeks. I was livid. I said ‘I thought the cut off point was ten days’, they were like ‘oh, he was showing positive signs’. I just said ‘rules are rules’, and walked out. Bloody livid I was.

PETE I had to cancel a holiday to Corfu twice last year. So when I heard another fella had come off his bike.

TREVOR You were dubious.

PETE To say the least.

TREVOR But then they told you that his head was under the wheel of a bendy bus.

PETE But his organs were intact.

Trevor laughs.

TREVOR Well, cheers.

Trevor and Pete clink their beer bottles together.

TREVOR What did you do to your old ones then?

PETE “Chronic interstitial nephritis.”

Trevor pulls an involuntary grimace.

PETE Got it in my twenties. Been on the list for nine years. How about you?

TREVOR It’s the booze that done it to me. I should probably lay off this actually.

Trevor waves his beer bottle.

TREVOR But it’s the only thing they were giving away for free.

PETE There’s free beer?

TREVOR Few bottles near the front as you came in. Reckon they’ll be long gone now though.

Pete tuts and glances vainly into the doorway of the pub. 

TREVOR It’s only cheep German shit anyway. In keeping with the theme. No expense spent. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful, like. But come on. We drove past a Tesco Express to get here.

PETE Now you mention it I could eat.

Trevor checks his watch.

TREVOR Here, I know a pub round the corner. It’s got proper ales and it does fish and chips till 9 on weekdays. What do you reckon?

PETE I hate funerals anyway. Bloody depressing if you ask me.

TREVOR I’m with you there pal.

Pete looks around to check no one is looking. Trevor grins and leads the way.

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