Selling Clive – June 2013

by robhayeswritesplays

 

Scene One

Lights up on a living room. RUTH is knitting a tiny sweater suitable for a baby.

Off stage, the front door opens and closes. CLIVE can be heard singing ‘Sex Machine’ in the hallway.

CLIVE: (O.S)

Get up-ah! (Get on up). Get up-ah! (Get on up).

RUTH stops knitting. She listens, confused.

CLIVE: (O.S)

Get a-lean! (Get on up). Like-ah sex a-machine! (get on up).

CLIVE enters the living room. He throws his keys on the table. He and RUTH lock eyes.

CLIVE:
Get up-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahello.

RUTH:

Clive?

CLIVE:

Ruth.

RUTH:

Clive.

CLIVE:

Darling.

RUTH:

Darling?

CLIVE:

Yes?

RUTH:

What.

CLIVE:

Hello!

RUTH:

What are you.

CLIVE:

Hah?

RUTH:

What are you doing here?

CLIVE:

Who me?

RUTH:

Yes. You.

CLIVE:

I. Pardon?

RUTH:

What are you doing home?

CLIVE:

What am I. This. I live here.

RUTH:

I know that.

CLIVE:

Exactly, so.

RUTH:

Why aren’t you at work?

CLIVE:

What are you.

RUTH:

What?

CLIVE:

Is that another sweater? It’s lovely.

RUTH:

Thanks. But.

CLIVE:

I thought you were having lunch with Julie.

RUTH:

What’s that got to do with anything?

CLIVE:

Nothing. I just. I.

RUTH:

She cancelled.

CLIVE:

What a bitch. I always thought she was a bitch.

RUTH:

Her sister’s been taken to hospital.

CLIVE:

Selfish, uptight.

RUTH:

Why aren’t you at work?

CLIVE:

Stuck up bitch. One eye bigger than the other.

RUTH:

Clive!

CLIVE:

Yes darling?

RUTH:

Why are you here, now, and not at work?

CLIVE:

I am at work.

RUTH:

What?

CLIVE:

I’m ill.

RUTH:

You’re ill?

CLIVE:

I’ve got the flu.

He coughs.

RUTH:

Why did you just cough if you have the flu?

CLIVE:

I’ve got a bad cough as well. I’m having a bit of a nightmare.

RUTH:

You were just singing Sex Machine.

CLIVE:

Love a little sing-song when I’m feeling under the weather. Keep the spirits up.

RUTH:

You didn’t seem ill this morning.

CLIVE:

I think I caught it on the way into work. The security guard has really poor personal hygeine. He’s a foreign man.

RUTH:

Does George know?

CLIVE:

They do things differently over there.

RUTH:

Clive. George.

CLIVE:

George? No. I didn’t want to cause a fuss. Why, did he. Has he. Called?

RUTH:

Hadn’t you better tell him?

CLIVE:

Did he call?

RUTH:

No.

CLIVE:

Are you sure?

RUTH:

Yes I’m sure.

CLIVE:

Because he might have called.

RUTH:

He didn’t call Clive.

CLIVE:

Right. Good. I’ll just check the answer machine.

RUTH:

I’ve been in all day, no one’s called.

CLIVE:

Okay, good. They’re probably quite busy. Well I’d better get back to the office then.

CLIVE makes to leave.

RUTH:

I thought you were ill.

CLIVE clicks his fingers.

CLIVE:

Ah, yes.

RUTH:

If you’re ill you should call George and let him know you’re taking the day off. If you are ill.

CLIVE:

I am.

RUTH:

So call him.

CLIVE:

There’s really no need. It’s been going round the office.


RUTH:

He’s still going to wonder where you are.

CLIVE:

It’s been going round clockwise. Last week it was Louise. The week before that Derek. So it’s my turn. They’re expecting me to catch it.

RUTH:

Call your boss and tell him you won’t be in.

CLIVE:

Honestly darling it’s not.

RUTH:

I don’t want you giving them any excuses. If you’re ill, call George.

CLIVE looks reticent.

RUTH:

Call him.

CLIVE:

Fine. Okay great. I was meaning to anyway.

CLIVE moves over to the phone and picks up the receiver.

CLIVE:

And you’re gonna. Stay there. Are you?

RUTH:

Yes.

CLIVE:

In this room?

RUTH:

Yep.

CLIVE:

No. Good. Don’t move on my account. You get comfortable.

Beat. CLIVE grins at RUTH.

He picks up the reciever.

CLIVE:

George, yeah it’s Clive. I won’t be in today. I’ve got that flu that’s been going round. Yeah clockwise, I know…weird…that’s very kind of you to say so. Well ‘lynchpin’ is a strong word…but perhaps the glue that holds it all…yeah…I’m sure you’ll find a way of carrying on without me. You’ve got a good team. How’s Vanessa? Good good, haha! I bet she is. Well she’s in good shape. Clearly she wants to keep it that way! Haha! Ooh err! And the cats? Excellent. Well I’d better let you go. Miss you too George. Bye.

CLIVE hangs up.

CLIVE:

Funny guy. Great banter.

RUTH:

How was that?

CLIVE:

Yeah it’s nice to catch up every now and then. Touch base. We’re so busy at work we barely get a chance.

RUTH:

Did that go well then?

CLIVE:

Yep. All fine.

RUTH:

That’s amazing. Considering you didn’t dial the number.

CLIVE:

No, because.

Beat.

RUTH:

That’s embarrassing.

RUTH nods to the phone. CLIVE dials the number and waits for an answer.

CLIVE:

Oh hello George, it’s Clive. This is just to say that I won’t be making it into work today. I’m going to hospital to have my penis removed from my crotch. Then I’m going to have it stapled to my forehead so that I can be just like you, and instead of seeing all the hard working, dedicated employees right in front of my fucking eyes I’ll just see a useless flap of saggy pink skin. Okay bye then, see you tomorrow. Or not. DICKHEAD! Call me when you get this.

He slams down the receiver.

CLIVE:

I lost my job.

RUTH:

Yeah I got that. What the hell’s going on?

CLIVE:

I don’t have a job any more and I was angry about it. So I left an unpleasant voicemail on George’s.

RUTH:

I know that bit. When did this happen?

CLIVE:

Last Thursday.

RUTH:

Last Thursday? You’ve been going in all week.

CLIVE shakes his head.

RUTH:

You have. You’ve.

CLIVE:

I’ve been going bowling.

RUTH:

Bowling? Every day?

CLIVE:

Except for Tuesday. I went to the funfair.

RUTH:

The fun. Why the funfair?

CLIVE:

Spent six hours on the teacups eating jelly babies. Vomited twice. They didn’t mind. Just hosed it down.

RUTH:

And I suppose you’re not ill.

CLIVE:

I was a bit then. I don’t have the flu though.

RUTH:

Or a bad cough?

CLIVE coughs.

CLIVE:

No.

RUTH:

How long were you going to keep lying to me?

CLIVE:

Just until I figured out what to do.

RUTH:

And have you?

CLIVE:

I had to wash my trousers in the toilet of a Burger King.

Beat.

CLIVE:

No, I’ve clearly not figured out what to do.

RUTH:

You’ll have to get it back.

CLIVE:

Get what back?

RUTH:

Your job. You’ll have to go in and get it back.

CLIVE:

Get it back?

RUTH:

You’ve been there for twelve years. You and George are friends.

CLIVE:

Friends, right.

RUTH:

Can’t you just go in there ask for it back?

CLIVE:

I lost my job Ruth. I didn’t kick a football into next door’s garden. It’s gone. If there was a job to get back I wouldn’t have lost it in the first place.

RUTH:

But you were there for twelve years.

CLIVE:

I know how long I was there for. I was the one who was there.

RUTH:

I can’t believe he fired you. We look after his cat.

CLIVE:

I know.

RUTH:

Why?

CLIVE:

Because catteries are expensive these days and he knows I have an affinity with domesticated animals.

RUTH:

I mean why did he fire you?

CLIVE:

They call me cat lady. What?

RUTH:

Why? Why you?

CLIVE:

It could’ve been anyone. They probably just pulled a name out of a hat. Or used some special computer software that pulls a name out of a special computer hat. Probably invented by Dan. Ooh, precious Dan!

RUTH:

So that’s it then. No job. No savings.

CLIVE:

Dan’s the IT manager.

RUTH:

Did you at least get a, I don’t know, a redundancy package?

CLIVE:

It’s the way things are nowadays. We’re not people any more. We’re just machines. Soon the whole office will just be. Flying robots. On hoverboards. Shooting emails out their eyes.

RUTH:

Why would flying robots need hoverboards?

CLIVE:

I don’t know do I? It’s the future, nothing makes sense.

RUTH:

Is that really the best you can do? Blame it on the future?

CLIVE:

I’ll figure something out.

RUTH:

When?

CLIVE:

Just give me a couple of days.

RUTH:

What are you going to do? Bowl your way into a new job?

CLIVE:

You don’t think I’ve tried that already? I have been looking work you know. I’ve sent my CV all over the place. I’ve been busking.

RUTH:

Busking? What.

CLIVE:

Yeah busking. Only with audits. You know.

RUTH:

No I don’t know. Busking and auditing are two different things.

CLIVE:

It’s basically the same. Except instead of singing songs I’ll do some audits. Little table. Calculator. Change bucket. Regional revenue figures for Morrisons.

RUTH:

On the street?

CLIVE:

Yeah. Outside the bowling alley. Cheeky game at lunchtime.

RUTH:

So you’ve been sat outside a bowling alley in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, doing audits on a fake account, and no one’s come over and offered you a job yet?

CLIVE:

That’s the job market for you. On it’s knees.

RUTH:

Yeah, that is surprising. I’d’ve thought that’s the first place they’d look.

CLIVE:

One old lady responded well. Then she handed me a bag of raw meat. I was a bit worried about her actually.

RUTH:

And you say you haven’t figured out a plan yet. You’re too hard on yourself Clive.

CLIVE:

Okay, that was all sarcastic, wasn’t it? At least I’m trying. I’m good. I am good at my job. Someone’s got to need a bloody good auditor out there, and I’m gonna find him. Or her. Probably him though, women tend to take on more HR-based roles.

RUTH:

Well you need to find something. Even if it is bloody bowling.

CLIVE:

It won’t be bowling I’m nowhere near professional level.

RUTH:

Whatever it is Clive, you’re going to find it. Understood?

CLIVE:

Auditing is the thing I’m good at. The only thing. Numbers are like my slaves. I can see when an account is out of line. I can actually see it, just by looking at the page in front of me. It gives me this amazing feeling of…control. Like I am the master of the…the…digits.

RUTH:

Well why don’t you master our digits for a change? Can’t be that hard, they’re all the same. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero.

CLIVE:

There aren’t that many zeros.

RUTH:

No, there are a few numbers in there. Shame they’ve all got minus signs in front of them.

CLIVE:

What do you suggest? Hah? What’s your input? Knit another sweater? Iron the tablecloth?

RUTH:

I told you to go and ask for your job back. That was my suggestion.

CLIVE:

Oh yes, that shows a dazzling insight into employment protocol. If only I’d had that kind of expert insider’s advice before.

RUTH:

I’m a housewife!

CLIVE:

I’m the reason you’ve got a house to be a wife in!

RUTH:

If we carry on like this, we might not. In fact, I might not even be a wife much longer.

CLIVE:

Oh very nice. And what would you be then? A nothing nothing.

RUTH:

Then maybe we’d have more in common.

Clive is hurt.

RUTH:

Sorry, that was. This isn’t getting us anywhere. Let’s just.

CLIVE:

Calm down.

RUTH:

Have a think.

CLIVE:

Get some fresh air.

RUTH:

A bit of perspective.

CLIVE:

Go bowling or something.

RUTH:

We’re not going bowling.

CLIVE

I’m brainstorming.

RUTH:

I could. Clive, I could talk to George.

CLIVE:

What?

RUTH:

Me and George. I could.

CLIVE:

No, that wouldn’t. I don’t know how that would help.

RUTH:

I think it would. I think I could talk to him. It might help if I spoke to him.

CLIVE:

You think you could get my job back?

RUTH:

It’s worth a try.

CLIVE:

As in you go in there on my behalf? As in you go in there and fight my battle on my behalf?

RUTH:

It won’t be like that. George and I know each other. We have an understanding. I could just. Talk to him.

CLIVE:

No. That won’t work.

RUTH:

It can’t hurt.

CLIVE:

It will hurt.

RUTH:

Let me try.

CLIVE:

No. Absolutely not.

RUTH:

Why are you being like this? Let me just speak to him.

CLIVE:

No.

RUTH:

It’ll be worth it, trust me.

CLIVE:

I said no.

RUTH:

There’s something you need to know about George and I. We have a very special. Very personal.

CLIVE:

I didn’t get fired. Alright? I didn’t lose my job.

RUTH:

What? So what’s. Why.

CLIVE:

I quit. I quit.

RUTH:

Beg your pardon? You.

CLIVE:

Quit, yeah.

RUTH:

You.

CLIVE:

Yes! I quit.

RUTH:

You fucking idiot.

CLIVE:

Yes. What?

RUTH:

What the hell is wrong with you?

CLIVE:

Nothing. That’s what I’m saying.

RUTH:

You walked out of your job? After twelve years?

CLIVE:

Hang on, you don’t know.

RUTH:

I don’t care. You don’t walk out on a career you’ve spent twelve years of our time building.

CLIVE:

Our time? You don’t know what I went through! He treated me like a useless bloody. Like he was doing me a favour keeping me there. It was demeaning.

RUTH:

So you suck it up. We all have things we have to deal with.

CLIVE:

I’m an asset to that company. I’m a valued. So I’m no good with computers. So what? If sending a telegram is old fashioned, then I hold my hands up. I’m old fashioned. I’ll admit it, I’m scared of the Internet.

RUTH:

I’m aware of your phobia.

CLIVE:

Where is it Ruth? Where actually is it?

RUTH:

We’ve been through this.

CLIVE:

But that doesn’t make me useless, does it?

RUTH:

Not useless. Just less useful.

CLIVE:

I can still do my job. I’m not a liability.

RUTH:

Is that what he said? He called you a liability?

CLIVE:

I’m valued by my colleagues. I command their respect.

RUTH:

No one’s doubting that.

CLIVE:

They got me a present you know.

RUTH:

Did they?

CLIVE:

Yeah, they got me an envelope with some loose change.

RUTH:

Right.

CLIVE:

Very thoughtful of them that. They know I’m a big fan of vending machines.

Beat.

RUTH:

Surely there’s some sort of. Law or. He can’t fire you because you’re not computer literate. We need to just talk to him. Face to face.

CLIVE:

They’ve hired a replacement.

RUTH:

Already?

CLIVE:

21 years old. He has an earring Ruth. And not even in his ear lobe. In that weird gristly bit up there.

He pinches the top of his ear.

CLIVE:

I don’t understand the world anymore.

RUTH:

Life moves forward Clive. You’ll just have to find a way of keeping up.

CLIVE:

I could get an earring.

RUTH:

Why don’t you try learning a new skill?

CLIVE:

I was gonna say that too. Look, I got this.

CLIVE produces a leaflet.

CLIVE:

Night courses at the college. I could retrain.

RUTH:

Okay, good. That’s a good idea.

CLIVE:

They do pottery.

RUTH:

No, you’d do a computer course.

CLIVE:

Yeah, no, sure I’d.

CLIVE stares at the leaflet.

CLIVE:

Would be cool though. Making pots.

He looks up at RUTH.

CLIVE:

But the computer ones, they’re. Yeah.

CLIVE puts the leaflet away.

RUTH:

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

CLIVE:

Hey, hey. It’ll be okay, alright?

CLIVE hugs her, rubs her arms.

RUTH:

What am I going to tell mum?

CLIVE:

Don’t worry about that. I’ll tell mum.

RUTH:

We have different mums.

CLIVE:

Yes.

Beat.

CLIVE:

I’ll sort this out. I’ll get it sorted. Have I ever let you down before? That was rhetorical.

Blackout.

Scene Two

Lights up on the same set. Again, RUTH has half a finished baby’s sweater on her lap. She’s cradling the phone between her shoulder and ear.

RUTH:

So this is it? Over the phone. Is it something I did? Or something I didn’t do? Because I told you I have an overactive gag reflex and it really would not be pleasant if. Okay. Okay. I’m sorry to hear that. I guess we won’t be. Seeing each other anymore. Do you know what really upsets me? You’ve given Vanessa four kids in six years. And in all our time together you’ve never ever been able to.

RUTH hears the front door open. She hastily hangs up the phone.

CLIVE enters. He now has only one arm.

CLIVE:

Afternoon.

RUTH:

How’d you get on?

CLIVE:

I made six hundred pounds.

RUTH:

Wow. How’d you manage that? Sell yourself on the street or something?

CLIVE:

Wh. uh.

RUTH laughs. She notices his missing arm and immediately stops laughing.

RUTH:

Oh my god.

CLIVE:

I know! Six hundred pounds!

RUTH:

Clive, your arm, your. What’s.

CLIVE holds out his remaining arm.

CLIVE:

What? What’s wrong with it?

RUTH:

No, you’re other one. It’s. It’s. Where is it?

CLIVE:

Hah? Oh, yeah. I sold it.

RUTH:

You. Hang on, what?

CLIVE:

I sold it. I’ve got another one anyway.

RUTH:

You sold your arm?

CLIVE:

Yep. How’s your day been?

RUTH:

How? How is that.

CLIVE:

Six hundred big ones.

RUTH:

Who did this to you?

CLIVE:

Florian.

RUTH:

What’s a Florian?

CLIVE:

He’s an artist. He said it was a work of art. Told him I used to do boxercise.

RUTH:

Are. Are you going to get it back?

CLIVE:

What, you mean like buy it back?

RUTH:

I don’t know. You tell me.

CLIVE:

We can’t afford to be buying works of art Ruth. I don’t have a job.

RUTH walks over and investigates the stump.

CLIVE:

Ah, careful.

RUTH:

I don’t understand.

CLIVE:

Think I’ve explained it pretty clearly.

RUTH sits on the sofa.

RUTH:

How. I mean. What.

CLIVE:

I know what you’re thinking. I can tell. Look at that face! Don’t worry.

He reaches into his pocket and takes out his wedding ring.

CLIVE:

Hah!

He reaches in again and takes out his wristwatch.

CLIVE:

No way they were getting off with the extras. Not unless they were willing to pay for them. Which they weren’t, so. Don’t say your old man ain’t savvy.

RUTH:

How are you going to function with one arm?

CLIVE:

I’ll be fine. Can’t actually remember what I used that arm for anyway. It was just there. As a spare.

RUTH:

A spare? You think you had a spare arm?

CLIVE:

Normally people use just one arm for everything. Then the second one just comes in to tackle the big stuff. Like moving a fridge.

RUTH

That’s nonsense. That’s complete rubbish. Normally people use both arms. Normally people don’t sell their own body parts for cash. That’s because normal people, Clive, have a bit of self-respect.

CLIVE:

Self-respect. Waste of time. I had it for thirty-four years and didn’t make a bloody penny off it. Soon as I lose it, bang. Six hundred quid in the bank.

RUTH:

No, this is. We have to call the police or something. I mean, the man’s deranged, clearly. Some sort of maniac going round hacking people’s arms off.

CLIVE:

He’s not a maniac.

RUTH:

He’s insane. We have to call the police.

CLIVE:

He’s not insane. He’s a beautiful man.

RUTH:

He might have it on ice or something, we could get it stitched.

CLIVE:

He saved me. I was on the verge of a relapse. I was stood in line to the Waltzers with half a kilo of candy floss in a bin bag. That’s a hell of a lot of candy floss. It has almost no density. Then I felt someone squeeze my elbow. But it wasn’t any old elbow squeeze. It was a squeeze of respect. Of, of admiration. It wasn’t like the elbow squeeze you give me when I’m embarrassing myself in front of your friends. This was a squeeze the likes of which my elbow has never experienced.

RUTH:

What are you on about?

CLIVE:

And the way he talked about me. He said my arm was important. That it needed to be seen. By the world! He said I have the hands of a mermaid. No one’s ever said that to me before.

RUTH:

Yes they have. Your cousin Andre says it to you all the time.

CLIVE:

No one’s ever meant it as a compliment!

RUTH:

Fine. So he buttered you up a bit.

CLIVE:

He made me regret wearing all those long-sleeved shirts you buy me.

RUTH:

Wait. So. Okay. Right. Here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna go and find this man, you’re going to explain that you made a terrible decision that was rash and short-sighted.

CLIVE:

You’re short-sighted.

RUTH:

That’s irrelevant.

CLIVE:

You’re irrelevant!

RUTH:

For god’s sake grow up!

CLIVE:

Florian saw something in me that no one’s ever seen. He showed me my true worth.

RUTH:

Six hundred pounds.

CLIVE:

He was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m not going back.

RUTH:

So it’s gone then, is it? For good. It’s just. Gone.

CLIVE:

It’s gone from the end of my body yeah. But it’s still around. We can visit. It’ll be in a gallery. They’re gonna have a big opening. Everyone will be looking at my arm and saying. ‘Wow, look at that arm.’

RUTH:

And you’ll be one of them. A paying customer.

CLIVE:

We’ll get a discount.

RUTH:

Stood gawping at your own limb. You won’t even be able to point like all the rest.

CLIVE:

Er, I’ve still got this.

He waves his arm.

CLIVE:
Pointing is yet another one-armed job.

RUTH:

What about your responsibilities?

CLIVE:

What responsiblities?

RUTH:

Me. The job hunt. Our family.

CLIVE:

We don’t have a family.

RUTH:

Not yet.

CLIVE:

Right, exactly.

RUTH:

But soon.

RUTH rubs her belly.

CLIVE:

What do you mean soon? How soon?

RUTH nods.

RUTH:

I’m pregnant.

CLIVE:

Fuck off.

RUTH:

Excuse me?

CLIVE:

You’re having a shit.

RUTH:

Clive.

CLIVE:

You’re not pregnant.

RUTH:

I am.

CLIVE:

When? How? How long have you?

RUTH:

Okay just calm down.

CLIVE:

It it mine?

RUTH:

Yes of course it’s.

CLIVE:

Is it yours?

RUTH:

What?

CLIVE:

Oh Jesus. God this is. Pregnant? Fuck! I can’t have a baby, I’ve got one arm!

CLIVE starts to hyperventilate.

RUTH:

Clive calm down.

CLIVE:

We’ll have to give it to charity.

RUTH:

Take a deep breath.

CLIVE:

Oh god. Oh Jesus fuck no. Oh god everything’s ruined!

RUTH:

I’m not pregnant.

Pause.

CLIVE:

What?

RUTH:

I’m. I’m not pregnant.

CLIVE:

Then why did you.

RUTH:

I don’t know. It just came out. Sorry.

CLIVE:

You’re literally not pregnant?

RUTH:

Literally. Yeah.

CLIVE:

What a ridiculous thing to say. Scared the life out of me.

RUTH:

Sorry.

CLIVE:

You can be really weird sometimes.

RUTH:

I said I’m sorry.

CLIVE:

Crisis averted I suppose.

RUTH:

I could have been. We’ve been trying for so long now.

CLIVE:

What do you mean trying? Trying what?

RUTH:

For a baby.

CLIVE:

We’ve been trying for a baby?

RUTH:

Yes.

CLIVE:

As in you and me?

RUTH:

Yes! Why do you think we’ve been doing it three nights a week?

CLIVE:

That’s why we’ve been doing it?

RUTH:

Why else do you think we were?

CLIVE:

Well, I.

CLIVE shrugs, smoothes out his shirt.

CLIVE:

Been wearing a new aftershave. Thought that might.

RUTH:

This is what we agreed. I thought it’s what we wanted.

CLIVE:

I never agreed anything.

RUTH:

You were happy to play along.

CLIVE:

You were putting out! I was hardly gonna. It doesn’t matter now anyway.

RUTH:

Why not?

CLIVE:

Well, our priorities.

CLIVE gestures to his stump.

RUTH:

That’s convenient.

CLIVE:

If I’d known you were trying for a baby.

RUTH:

We. We were trying for a baby.

CLIVE:

If I’d known that before I quit my job and sold my arm, perhaps things could’ve been different.

RUTH:

You did know. Of course you knew.

CLIVE:

Well let’s not dwell on it. The ship’s sailed.

RUTH:

No, we can still do it. We can keep trying.

CLIVE:

No way. Can’t afford it.

RUTH:

I’m not happy Clive. I’m lonely.

CLIVE:

A baby is not the answer. A baby will only provoke more questions. Like why did we have this baby? And how do I shut up this baby?

RUTH:

I don’t think you understand what I’m going through.

CLIVE:

We can’t afford a child. If you want companionship you need to be thinking Jack Russell or lower.

RUTH:

We can make it work.

CLIVE:

Just say we have a ‘baby’. What’s it going to eat? Hm? Tiny little sweaters?

He picks up one of RUTH’S knitted sweaters and tosses it across the room.

CLIVE:

Where’s it going to sleep? Inside a tiny little sweater? How will it keep warm in the winter? With a tiny little– actually that one works. Ignore that.

RUTH:

Why are you doing this to us?

CLIVE:

Doing what?

RUTH:

You know what.

CLIVE:

I’m not doing anything. It’s just how things have worked out. People live full and happy lives with one arm. Plenty of jobs out there for someone like me. You know, there’s a guy who can play the violin with his feet. Makes a fortune.

RUTH:

You can’t play the violin.

CLIVE:

Maybe I can with my feet. We don’t know.

RUTH starts to cry.

RUTH:

My mum always said you were stupid.

CLIVE:

She is actually stupid though.

RUTH:

She was right, you are stupid.

CLIVE:

‘Ooh, how do farmers tell the difference between semi-skimmed and whole milk cows?’

RUTH:

They treat the milk. After it’s.

CLIVE:

I know that! I know how milk works. Someone needs to tell her!

RUTH:

Have you thought about what we’re going to do for money?

CLIVE:

I just told you.

RUTH:

Assuming you can’t play the violin with your feet.

CLIVE:

I could write my autobiography. The Man Who Sold His Arm.

RUTH:

You worked in the same office for twelve years then lost your job and sold your arm in the same week. That’s not the basis for an autobiography.

CLIVE:

What about the time I met George Michael?

RUTH:

You didn’t meet him; you stood behind him at a cash point.

CLIVE:

Here we go.

RUTH:

And it wasn’t even him.

CLIVE:

It was definitely him.

RUTH:

It was just a man in a leather jacket.

CLIVE:

Not this again!

RUTH:

Yes this again.

CLIVE:

Next you’re gonna say I didn’t meet Sting.

RUTH:

Why would Sting be selling umbrellas on the Isle of Man?

CLIVE picks up a framed photograph from the table.

CLIVE:

And what about Anthea Turner? Are you gonna deny photographic evidence as well now?

RUTH:

I don’t think a book signing counts as meeting someone.

Pause. CLIVE puts the photo down. RUTH observes his stump.

RUTH:

Did it hurt?

CLIVE:

Yeah.

RUTH:

Did it?

CLIVE:

Yeah it really hurt. Didn’t scream though. You’d have been proud.

RUTH:

Didn’t they give you any anaesthetic?

CLIVE:

Yeah but the injection really hurt. And I’m scared of needles. I almost didn’t go through with it, but I came to my senses.

CLIVE shrugs his shoulders up and down.

CLIVE:

It feels like it’s still there. I guess in a way it is. But in another much more accurate way. You know. It isn’t.

Pause.

CLIVE:

Oh, I have to rub balm on the stump twice a day. Don’t let me forget.

Pause.

RUTH:

Clive I need to know something.

CLIVE:

Yes, I can still go to the toilet by myself.

RUTH:

No, no I. Clive, do you love.

CLIVE:

You know what we could both do with? A nice cup of tea.

RUTH:

Okay.

CLIVE:

Maybe a sandwich?

RUTH:

What did you do with the ones I made you for lunch?

CLIVE:

I ate them. They were nice. Was there chutney?

RUTH nods.

RUTH:

Apple and cinnamon.

CLIVE:

I like.

RUTH:

Clive, do you love me?

CLIVE:

Course I do. Darling of course I do.

RUTH:

I’ll put the kettle on.

RUTH exits.

CLIVE picks up the phone and dials.

CLIVE:

Hi, Florian please. Florian it’s me. Clive. We met this afternoon. When you amputated my arm. Mermaid hands. Yeah. Listen, we need to cancel operation southpaw. It can’t go ahead I’m afraid. I know. I know I’m sorry. Look it’s not me. It’s my wife. She really did not react with the unconditional support I’d anticipated. Now listen, I’m sorry to let you down, but I’m telling you there’s no. There’s just no way. It’s not me, I told you.

He turns as RUTH re-enters.

CLIVE:

It’s my wife! She’s.

CLIVE spins, sees RUTH.

CLIVE:

Lovely and sweet-natured and really very compassionate. Hello darling.

RUTH:

Who is it?

CLIVE:

No, I don’t want one of your mobile phones thank you. Thanks for calling.

RUTH:

Give it here.

CLIVE:

I already have one thank you. Okay, I really have to go now.

RUTH:

Give me the phone.

RUTH snatches the phone from CLIVE.

CLIVE:

She wants to speak to you.

RUTH:

Who is this?

Pause.

RUTH:

It’s you. What’s operation southpaw?

CLIVE goes to exit. RUTH keeps him in the room.

RUTH:

You were going to. And he.

RUTH looks at CLIVE’S arm, then into his eyes.

RUTH:

How much?

Beat.

RUTH:

Double it.

Blackout

Scene Three

Lights up. RUTH is knitting, as with the previous two scenes. She examines the sweater she’s knitting. Smiles.

She stands up, shoves a cushion under her shirt, strokes it like a pregnancy bump.

Off stage there is a low, scratchy buzzing sound. RUTH ignores it. The noise grows louder, she tuts.

RUTH:

Hang on!

She removes the cushion and exits.

She re-enters wheeling CLIVE in a wheelchair. He now has no arms, no legs and no teeth. He wears an eye patch and a bobble hat, and is completely paralysed. He has a party blower in his mouth which he blows intermittently.

She leaves him by the sofa and makes a phone call.

RUTH:

Jake, hi. Yep. Yes. No I got your voicemail. It’s just not good enough Jake. I know you can do fifteen. No that’s my lowest. His left went for twelve thousand so you know it’ll sell. Well it’s the nature of the market. Jake, I’m a bit busy right now. Talk to Karl, think on it, then come back when you’re ready to pay the fifteen thou. For what it’s worth I reckon you’ve got till the weekend, alright?

RUTH hangs up. She carries on cleaning.

RUTH:

That was Jake Lopez about your eye. He’s still holding out. I think we’ll get the full offer by Friday.

CLIVE blows weakly on the party blower.

RUTH:

Well, exactly.

TINOTHY enters holding a briefcase.

TINOTHY:

Don’t be scared!

RUTH jumps, turns.

RUTH:

Who the hell are you?

TINOTHY:

Your door was unlocked.

RUTH:

Get out.

TINOTHY:

Please, I.

RUTH:

Before I call the police.

TINOTHY:

I asked you not to be scared.

RUTH:

Who are you?

TINOTHY:

I’m here on behalf of Florian Donersberg.

Beat.

RUTH:

Ah.

TINOTHY:

You’ve been expecting me, haven’t you?

RUTH:

Could say that.

TINOTHY:

It’s nice to feel expected. Cuts out a lot of claptrap. You’re Ruth, I take it.

RUTH:

Yes. I’m sorry, you are?

TINOTHY:

Tinothy.

RUTH:

Timothy. Hello.

TINOTHY:

No, Tinothy. With an N.

RUTH:

Oh. That’s a strange name.

TINOTHY:

Yes.

RUTH:

Where’s it from?

TINOTHY:

My mother. She made it up. Thought it would be a good conversation starter.

RUTH:

Is it?

TINOTHY:

It’s good at starting this conversation.

RUTH:

You’ve probably had all this before then.

TINOTHY:

Three thousand times.

RUTH:

What, exactly three thousand?

TINOTHY:

Yes.

RUTH:

Wow. We should celebrate.

TINOTHY:

No. It’s just a number. Just a really, really big number.

RUTH:

Okay. Guess you’d better take a seat.

TINOTHY:

I’d rather not.

RUTH:

Drink?

TINOTHY:

I can’t stay long.

RUTH:

No, I suppose it’s strictly business.

TINOTHY:

A moment ago she was about to call the police. Now she wants me to stay for a drink.

RUTH:

Who are you talking to?

TINOTHY moves over to CLIVE.

TINOTHY:

Is this him?

RUTH:

Yes. Yeah this is him. Look who it is Clive. Do you remember Tinothy?

CLIVE is unresponsive.

TINOTHY:

How is he?

RUTH:

Good. I think. It’s getting harder to tell.

TINOTHY:

How was the operation?

RUTH:

Which one?

TINOTHY:

The latest.

RUTH:

Successful.

TINOTHY:

How much of his brain was taken out?

RUTH:

About a fifth. Mostly from the front. Maria Parsenova bought it for £19,000. For an installation apparently.

TINOTHY:

Yes, I know. She’s not exactly keeping it a secret.

RUTH:

Are you here about his eye?

TINOTHY:

Florian wanted me to come over and talk to you in person. He finds it. Regrettable that you’ve chosen to conduct business in this way.

RUTH:

In what way?

TINOTHY:

Your associations with other artists. He finds it distasteful and rather distressing.

RUTH:

He started it.

TINOTHY:

Yes, and now he’s finishing it. I’m here to make you an offer.

RUTH:

It’s going for fifteen thousand.

TINOTHY:

I beg your pardon?

RUTH:

The eye.

TINOTHY:

Charming. I imagine the Lopez brothers are circling.

RUTH:

Maybe.

TINOTHY:

Like vultures round a corpse. It’s all a bit depressing.

RUTH:

Must be heartbreaking for you.

TINOTHY:

You have no idea. When we bought Clive’s arm, it was a realisation of the most advanced and inspired artistic event of the century. The final piece de resistance of an exhibition that will reshape the landscape of artistic endeavour.

RUTH:

Good for you.

TINOTHY:

Not just for us, but for humankind. Not any more though. Because Harry Harding bought his legs. Dominic Munroe bought his left eye. Sandra Bell’aqua bought his penis. I assume that included the testicles?

RUTH:

No, I’m keeping those for myself.

CLIVE blows the party blower. It falls out his mouth. RUTH puts it back in.

TINOTHY:

Now I read that Maria Parsenova has bought part of his brain, and Dr. Michelle Deville bought half his liver. And by the way, she’s not a real doctor, she’s a performance artist. She’s going to eat it next Thursday at a burlesque show in East london. And you don’t want to know what she plans to do with his wisdom teeth.

RUTH:

What’s your point?

TINOTHY:

They are trying to destroy us.

RUTH:

Why would they do that?

TINOTHY:

Because they’re jealous of Florian. His success, his. His vision. He’s been at the vanguard of the art world for the past fifteen years and every other hack with a paintbrush is getting restless. They’re not creating art, they’re polluting it.

RUTH:

If it means so much to him why isn’t he here himself?

TINOTHY:

Do you know about the great Florian? Are you aware of his legacy?

RUTH:

I know him as the man who severed my husband’s arm.

TINOTHY:

That explains a lot.

RUTH:

It’s a fair system. He can put in offers just like anyone else.

TINOTHY:

Yes. That’s what I was getting to.

RUTH:

His right eye is going for fifteen thousand pounds.

TINOTHY:

Florian is working hard to make his exhibition as spectacular as possible. We’ve been working constantly on new ideas that will recapture the purity of his initial vision.

TINOTHY looks over at CLIVE.

TINOTHY:

When we found Clive. That was a special day. It was an historic day for all of us, including your husband. He’s done something amazing.

CLIVE blows the party blower.

TINOTHY:

This is a special thing and the world will be richer for it.

RUTH:

Fifteen thousand for the eye.

TINOTHY:

Can he.

RUTH:

Go on.

TINOTHY looks uneasily at CLIVE.

TINOTHY:

Florian does want more of Clive. He needs it. But he doesn’t want the eye.

RUTH:

What does he want then?

TINOTHY:

His. His skin.

Pause.

RUTH:

All of it?

TINOTHY:

Yes.

RUTH:

That’ll kill him.

TINOTHY:

Possibly.

RUTH:

Not possibly, definitely. It’ll definitely kill him.

TINOTHY:

I’m not a doctor. I’m just a PA.

RUTH looks at CLIVE. She turns back to TINOTHY.

RUTH:

How much?

TINOTHY:

Five hundred thousand pounds.

RUTH:

Five hun.

Beat.

RUTH:

No.

Tinothy:

We can’t offer you more.

RUTH:

I don’t want more. I won’t do it. Not for anything.

TINOTHY:

Then why did you ask?

Beat.

TINOTHY:

Rest assured that Clive will be the showpiece of a monumental cultural happening. And his skin will be used in a highly dignified manner.

RUTH:

What will you do with it?

TINOTHY:

It will be wrapped around a dead pig. Then smeared with faeces.

RUTH:

That’s not dignified.

TINOTHY:

No, you’re right, I can’t lie. But it is artistically necessary. It will be part of an installation called Happy.

RUTH:

Happy?

RUTH looks over at CLIVE again.

RUTH:

He was happy. He is happy.

TINOTHY:

Actually, I think the name refers to the pig. As in happy as a pig.

RUTH:

In shit.

RUTH looks at CLIVE.

TINOTHY:

The show is pig themed. Florian bought up an entire pork farm especially. So there’s one called Piggy Bank. That’s a bank full of pigs. Greedy Pig, that’s a restaurant full of pigs. Pig Sick, that’s a hospital.

RUTH:

Full of pigs.

TINOTHY:

No, that’s. Oh no, you’re right, pigs. Pig Ignorant is a school full of pigs.

RUTH:

And I suppose Pigs in Blankets is a hotel full of pigs.

Beat.

TINOTHY takes out a notepad and pen from his pocket and writes this down. He puts the notepad away.

TINOTHY:

Ruth, the man is a genius. I wouldn’t do what I do if he wasn’t. Have you ever tried getting a dead pig into a school uniform? It’s bloody hard work. Trying to get purchase on the. It sounds easy I know, but it’s fucking not. Sorry.

RUTH:

You seem a bit resentful.

TINOTHY:

I’m not resentful. I’m just saying it’s hard to get a dead pig into a school uniform. It was a long day. But I’m part of it now. And so is Clive. He is a visionary, just like Florian. He is unique, and without him none of this could have happened.

RUTH:

He’s not unique, or a visionary, or remotely interested in art. He was an idiot. But it’s quiet now. I never thought I would miss his voice.

TINOTHY:

Half a million pounds will go a long way.

RUTH:

And what will I have when he’s gone?

Beat.

TINOTHY:

Half a million pounds.

RUTH:

I mean besides that. What will I do?

TINOTHY:

Move on. You’re a capable woman. You’ve turned one man’s bad decision into an enterprise.

RUTH:

The answer’s no.

TINOTHY:

I don’t think you’ve properly thought this through.

RUTH:

Go and exploit someone else. Leave me and my husband alone.

TINOTHY:

Exploitation. That’s a funny choice of accusation.

RUTH:

What would you call it? What you’re doing to us?

TINOTHY:

What about what you’re doing to us?

RUTH:

I had no choice.

TINOTHY:

You weren’t exploited, you were blessed.

RUTH:

Blessed? Is that what it looks like to you?

TINOTHY:

I offered my own arm up first, Ruth. Before we found Clive. Florian rejected it. He said it wasn’t right. It wasn’t perfect. I was devastated. If he’d asked for it, I’d have given it to him in a heartbeat. If he’d wanted my leg, I’d have given him that too. If he’d wanted my life. I would’ve seriously considered it. Because there is no-one on earth quite like him. He advises governments. Heads of industry. Think tanks and councils the world over. A simple comment from him could build careers or tear down institutions. He’s more than just an artist. He is Art. If he wanted just any old body part, he would’ve only had to mutter it under his breath and millions would flood to him, donating themselves. But he chose Clive. He found your husband weeping at a funfair with enough candy floss to blind a donkey.

He looks to CLIVE.

TINOTHY:

You pity him don’t you? You should revere him, for he has touched greatness.

RUTH;

The answer’s no.

TINOTHY:

Dammit!

He catches himself. Takes a deep breath.

TINOTHY:

We all need this. Florian needs it. You. Clive. And I need it too.

RUTH:

Don’t give me that nonsense.

TINOTHY:

I promised to deliver what he wanted tonight. It’s our very last chance. Whatever he asked for I would deliver. I didn’t know he was going to ask for this.

TINOTHY strokes CLIVE’S cheek.

TINOTHY:

I’m old now, Ruth. I’m long past my best. Florian has a team of. Teenagers. Dreaming up concepts and ideas that I can’t even fathom. I’ve been good to him, but he’s an uncompromising master. If he feels I’m of no more use he’ll. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I couldn’t serve him. I love him. Everything I am I’ve given over to him. My life would be nothing. I don’t like this any more than you do. I don’t want to be here. But I have no choice. If I return to the studio empty handed then I don’t know if I’d be allowed back in tomorrow morning. So don’t tell me I don’t need this.

RUTH:

I’m sorry to hear that. Apparently the job market’s tough at the moment.

TINOTHY:

I see, okay. You want to be left alone in happy matrimony, is that it? Or perhaps you think he has so much more to give, your mute, braindead, paraplegic husband?

RUTH:

Yes. My mute, braindead, paraplegic husband. Not yours. Not Florian’s.

TINOTHY:

Can he really offer you as much as you think?

RUTH:

What are you implying?

TINOTHY:

His eye is hot property now, I’ll give you that. But otherwise, what? No major limbs. Internal organs have been done, the demand’s gone cold for that. His genitals added a frisson of sexuality but that’s a trick you can only pull once. You could strip him to his bones in the next month if you like, but interest will quickly wane. And come Friday evening Florian’s masterwork will render all such variations on the theme redundant, outmoded, and faintly embarrassing. You’ll get the best price selling his cold still heart to a butcher’s shop.

RUTH:

How dare you. He is a human being. He’s a man.

TINOTHY:

Is he? Is that what you see when you look at him? Was he ever a man? Or has he always been a commodity waiting to find its market? Think about what you really want, Ruth. Think about what you need.

RUTH instinctively touches her belly.

TINOTHY:

Everyone agrees you’ve played this expertly. You’ve been a patient, watchful girl. And when the world was ready you seized the opportunity before you. Don’t ruin it all now by indulging some moral hiccup. It’s a kickback. It’s nostalgia. Think about it. We’re you ever happy?

RUTH moves to Clive.

RUTH:

I’ve quite liked having him like this for the past few days. We never had children. But now he’s like my little baby. Like my little boy. Is that weird?

TINOTHY:

No.

RUTH:

It is a bit weird isn’t it?

TINOTHY:

It is a little bit weird, yeah.

RUTH:

Do you think I’m crazy?

TINOTHY:

I’m not a psychoanalyst. I’m just a PA.

RUTH:

Do you have any children?

TINOTHY:

No. I have a little pug. Bella. People say I treat her like my surrogate daughter.

RUTH:

That’s a bit weird as well, is’t it?

TINOTHY:

Not as weird as treating my crippled husband like a baby.

RUTH:

You can’t have him.

TINOTHY:

He’s worth more to me than he is to you.

RUTH:

He’s my husband. I deserve a husband.

TINOTHY:

You deserve a family.

RUTH:

He is my family.

TINOTHY:

And you’re content with that?

RUTH:

I love him. He’s all I have.

TINOTHY:

And he’s all you’ll ever have if you don’t stop this pathetic little dance. Is that what you want? Lonely nights indoors, acting out a grotesque charade of happy homes? Diverting your motherly urge towards pliable objects and defenceless animals? Sat alone at night, silently rocking a bag of flour to sleep. Holding the lumpen powdery sack to your shrivelled, useless breast. Bitter tears slowly turning your surrugate child to pancake mix? Is that really what you want? Surrounded by cats, mumbling your own private nonsense as you force stewed carrots into the head cavity of a plastic doll. Rubbing ointment onto the wheezing torso you call a life partner as you vacantly mop up a stray thread of saliva. Staring at soap operas through watery, pink-rimmed eyes. Volume up high to drown out the degenerate moans of your husband. Is that what you want?

Beat.

TINOTHY:

Because if it is I’ll leave you to it.

He picks up the case.

RUTH:

Wait.

TINOTHY stops at the doorway, drops the case.

RUTH:

Just wait a second.

TINOTHY:

Whatever it is you really want, I’ll give it to you, if that’s what this’ll take. He is useless to you now. I can give you what you need. Just show me what it is.

RUTH moves over to the sofa. She picks up a cushion and pushes it up inside her blouse. She strokes the bump.

TINOTHY stares, slowly registering the implication. After a moment, he takes off his jacket and folds it over the back of the armchair.

RUTH turns to CLIVE. She kneels before him. Mops up a stray thread of saliva.

RUTH:

Clive, I love you. You know that, don’t you?

Pause.

RUTH:

Clive?

CLIVE weakly blows the party blower.

RUTH:

And I know you love me too. Don’t you?

CLIVE blows on the party blower.

RUTH:

I want you to understand what’s happening here. It’s important that you understand. Clive?

CLIVE is unresponsive.

RUTH:

You can’t give me what I need anymore. If you love me, you’ll understand that.

CLIVE is unresponsive.

RUTH:

You chose to. You brought this on yourself. This was all you. I never.

CLIVE is unresponsive.

RUTH:

Do you love me?

Beat.

RUTH:

Do you love me Clive?

CLIVE blows again.

RUTH looks at TINOTHY. He starts undressing.

She picks up the case and moves it to behind an armchair.

She wheels CLIVE round to face the wall.

RUTH:

I hope you’ll stay for lunch. Do you like sandwiches?

TINOTHY:

Yes.

RUTH:

Apple and cinnamon chutney?

TINOTHY:

Yes.

RUTH:

I make wonderful sandwiches.

RUTH pulls TINOTHY in close and they kiss. She wraps her arms around him and they fall together onto the sofa. They writhe and moan passionately.

CLIVE blows his party blower repeatedly.

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