Dinner Party With Breakdown

by robhayeswritesplays

 

A patio. Sturdy, modern outdoor dining furniture. Behind, a door into the kitchen of a new-build semi. Beyond, a garden currently undergoing renovation.

Nick and Donna Doyle sit at the table. Both stare off into the middle distance, not making eye contact or talking.

Silence. They stare.

NICK

Tell you what, can’t wait to see Daniel again.

DONNA

Shh.

NICK

Feels like I ain’t seen him in ages.

DONNA

Shh! Listen.

NICK

I can’t hear nothing.

DONNA

It’s like a. Like a. Hmmmmmm.

NICK

I can’t hear it darlin.

DONNA

Shh!

Pause.

DONNA

What is it? It’s like a hummin. Can you not hear it?

NICK

No I can’t hear it.

A ding from the kitchen.

DONNA

It was the microwave.

NICK

Oh.

DONNA

Thought I could hear somethin.

NICK

It was the microwave.

DONNA

Yeah. Beans are ready then.

NICK

Will they sit?

DONNA

They’ll have to won’t they? Have to put them back in when they get here.

NICK

Warm them through.

Donna shifts in her seat. Sighs.

DONNA

Where are they?

NICK

Yeah I know.

DONNA

I cooked a meal and everythin.

NICK

They’ll be here.

DONNA

They know it’s important to me. Why they late?

NICK

Could be anything darlin.

DONNA

Always do this.

NICK

First one ain’t it.

DONNA

I said to them. I said don’t be late.

NICK

Only took the plastic off the cooker this mornin.

DONNA

It’s all about timin. Doin a dinner is all about timin.

NICK

If it’s their fault they ain’t got no right to complain have they?

DONNA

Yeah but Nick I don’t wanna be servin anythin that they can complain about. That’s my point.

NICK

Shouldn’t be doin this in your state anyway. Runnin round.

DONNA

Cos they’ll just be thinkin oh she’s gone and messed it up somehow as usual.

NICK

All the heat and that.

DONNA

Like ten minutes won’t of made a difference. When it does.

NICK

Should’ve gone out somewhere.

DONNA

I wanna cook for people, but not if they ain’t gonna show up on time and ruin the whole thing.

NICK

Coulda gone to that new place. The what’s it called. That Lebanese place.

DONNA

Lebanese?

NICK

Yeah that new Lebanese place.

DONNA

As if mate. You know what dad woulda made of that.

NICK

Yeah good point.

DONNA

Can you imagine? Dad tryina read the menu. ‘Ain’t spicy is it? I won’t eat it if it’s spicy!’

NICK

Yeah! And your mum.

DONNA

Yeah.

NICK

She’ll just wanna see the wine menu.

DONNA

Alright Nick.

NICK

No sorry. No I was. Yeah.

DONNA

This is stupid now. They’re doin it on purpose.

NICK

I don’t think they’re doin it on purpose darlin.

DONNA

Why else are they late?

NICK

Why would they do it on purpose?

DONNA

I dunno.

NICK

Probably ain’t on purpose then is it?

DONNA

Been callin them all day. No answer. Literally ten times. No answer.

NICK

You know what they’re like. Probably just got caught up with something. You’re dad’s got all this goin on. With Dubai and that.

DONNA

I don’t give a fuck about Dubai. And neither should he on the weekend.

NICK

I think it’s quite a big deal for him. Lot of paperwork and that.

DONNA

He should know the difference between work and family.

NICK

Yeah.

DONNA

I know I want to talk to him about business but that’s different.

NICK

Yeah guess so.

DONNA

Cos that’s work and family together, at the same time. It ain’t either or.

NICK

Not either or. Yeah.

DONNA

It means we could work together. Spend a bit more time together maybe. Hard enough getting him round tonight.

NICK

Well make sure you don’t. You know.

DONNA

Don’t what?

NICK

You know. You don’t get too.

DONNA

Too what? Go on.

NICK

Nothin. Just. You’ve got a tendency to. Cos I know this is important for you.

DONNA

Spit it out Nick.

NICK

Get worked up a bit.

DONNA

I don’t fuckin get worked up a bit.

NICK

You do a bit Don. Sometimes.

DONNA

Well I won’t tonight.

NICK

Gotta show him that you can keep your head. In business and that.

DONNA

I will do. Course I will. That’s if he ever fuckin turns up!

NICK

See that’s kind of what I’m talkin about.

DONNA

He ain’t here yet is he? Can say what I want if he ain’t here.

NICK

Just. Deep breaths yeah. Control the hormones.

DONNA

Babe I promise. I’ll be the picture of. Solemnity.

NICK

Serenity yeah.

DONNA

What?

NICK

Nothing. How’ve you been today?

DONNA

Fine.

NICK

Yeah? No trouble or.

DONNA

No nothin. Still sick but.

NICK

That’ll pass.

Pause.

NICK

I’m looking forward to this anyway. Absolutely starvin.

DONNA

Lookin forward to a soggy dinner.

NICK

It won’t be soggy.

DONNA

Beef overcooked.

NICK

We’re havin beef?

DONNA

Yeah. Why what’s wrong with beef?

NICK

No nothin. Just.

Beat.

NICK

Thought we were havin lamb.

DONNA

No it’s beef.

NICK

You did say lamb.

DONNA

Well I meant beef.

NICK

Good, nice. I like beef, it’s nice.

DONNA

It’s supposed to be rosy in the middle. Moist and rosy.

NICK

Yeah.

DONNA

Be all tough now. All tough and grey.

NICK

It’ll be lovely.

DONNA

How do you know?

NICK

Look just. We all want it to be alright, okay? We all want to have a nice time. You. Me. Your mum. Eddie. No one wants to cause trouble. It’ll be nice. I’m lookin forward to it.

DONNA

Do you think he’ll go for it?

NICK

Go for what?

DONNA

Do you think he’ll see it as an investment opportunity?

NICK

The beef?

DONNA

What? No, the.

NICK

Oh. Sorry. Er. Maybe. He might be a bit.

DONNA

Bit what?

NICK

Bit preoccupied maybe. Tonight.

DONNA

What?

NICK

I’m just sayin he might be a bit.

DONNA

You just said we’re all gonna have a nice night.

NICK

Yeah but like I said he’s been busy. Lot to be doin, next few weeks.

DONNA

Why’s he gonna be preoccupied here though? He’s got no right to be.

NICK

He picked me up today. Out the blue.

DONNA

From the airport?

NICK

Yeah. He was all over the place. Couldn’t get a word out of him.

DONNA

What’s that got to do with anythin?

NICK

I’m just sayin try not to get upset if his mind’s elsewhere.

DONNA

I won’t get upset.

NICK

Good.

DONNA

Actually no. I will get upset.

NICK

Oh.

DONNA

Because his mind shouldn’t be elsewhere, it should be here with his family, and with the meal that I’ve gone and bloody cooked special for him.

NICK

Yeah. I mean in an ideal world.

DONNA

He ain’t got no right to be.

NICK

No, yeah.

DONNA

I’ll throw his dinner in his fucking face if he is.

NICK

No he won’t be. He won’t be.

DONNA

Then why’d you say it?

NICK

I don’t know darling. I dunno.

DONNA

She’ll be no good neither. Not at this time.

NICK

Shall I open the wine?

DONNA

Not yet. Just.

Pause.

NICK

I love you darlin.

DONNA

Yeah I love you too.

NICK

Hope it goes well for you tonight.

DONNA

Fuck are they?

They stare.

The sound of a big engine coming to rest. Tyres on a gravel driveway.

DONNA

That’s them. That’s them.

The distant sound of car doors closing, perhaps muted voices.

DONNA

WE’RE ROUND THE BACK!

Donna stands, head cocked.

DONNA

WE’RE ROUND THE BACK!

She listens for a response.

DONNA

THE BACK! COME ROUND THE BACK!

She listens again.

DONNA

Do you think they heard me?

NICK

I think they heard you yeah.

Eddie and Patricia Gates appear from round the front.

DONNA

Here we go!

PATRICIA

Hello darlin. Was that you shouting just then?

DONNA

Yeah I was saying come round the back.

PATRICIA

Oh I see.

DONNA

I thought you would be ringin the doorbell so I was sayin we’re round the back.

PATRICIA

Right. Come here.

She hugs and kisses Donna.

Eddie approaches Nick and shakes his hand.

EDDIE

Alright.

NICK

Yeah, alright. How’s your afternoon been?

EDDIE

Yeah. Here smell that.

Nick smells Eddie’s lapel.

NICK

Oh that’s nice. What is it?

EDDIE

New Boss.

NICK

New Hugo Boss is it?

EDDIE

Only came out Monday. She don’t like it.

NICK

No I think it’s nice. His old one was nice too.

EDDIE

I prefer the new one.

NICK

Yeah me too actually.

EDDIE

Bit feminine the last one.

NICK

What’s wrong Eddie, you not in touch with your feminine side?

EDDIE

I’ll be in touch with your feminine side, you’re not careful.

NICK

Steady. Wouldn’t want rumours getting round the office now.

Eddie gives Nick a mock jab to the jaw.

NICK

Pick that up in duty free?

EDDIE

Thought I’d pick it up whilst I was there. Few quid off. Got her a bottle of Chanel, she thought it was a fuckin liqueur.

PATRICIA

What’s he sayin about me?

Eddie holds his hands up, turns to his daughter.

PATRICIA

Hello sweetheart. How are you alright?

NICK

Yeah not bad. Cheers. And you?

PATRICIA

Don’t ask darlin. Save yourself the trauma.

Eddie greets Donna.

EDDIE

Hello darlin.

DONNA

Hiya dad.

EDDIE

You okay? Look a bit flustered.

DONNA

No I’m fine. Just tryin to get the timin right on this.

EDDIE

You been cookin all day? She been by the stove all day Nick?

NICK

Something like that, yeah.

EDDIE

There’s a first.

DONNA

Might be a bit overdone.

PATRICIA

It’ll be fine.

DONNA

Only it’s been in there about ten minutes too long. And the beans might be a bit soggy and all.

EDDIE

Don’t apologise love.

DONNA

I wasn’t, I was just.

EDDIE

Makes me nervous.

NICK

Here, sit down. I’ll get some wine.

PATRICIA

Yeah go on. Get it open.

NICK

Red or white?

EDDIE

Whisky.

PATRICIA

Eddie.

NICK

You can have whisky. Think I’ve got a bottle somewhere.

PATRICIA

He’s windin you up. He’ll have wine.

NICK

You sure? It’s no bother.

EDDIE

No I am windin you up. Wine’s fine.

NICK

Okay. Red or white?

EDDIE

Do I look like a fuckin housewife?

NICK

Well now you mention it, your colour matching’s come a long way.

EDDIE

Teach you a thing or two about dress sense mate.

PATRICIA

He’ll have red.

Nick nods, exits.

PATRICIA

Behave yourself.

EDDIE

We’re only havin a laugh.

She turns to Donna.

PATRICIA

How are you sweetheart, alright?

DONNA

Yeah I’m alright.

PATRICIA

You look beautiful darlin.

DONNA

Thanks mum.

PATRICIA

Really radiant.

EDDIE

She’s been stood next to the oven half the afternoon.

Patricia places her hand on Donna’s stomach.

PATRICIA

And how you feelin?

DONNA

Yeah.

PATRICIA

Have you started being sick yet? In the morning?

DONNA

Yeah I’m bein sick two or three times a day.

PATRICIA

It’ll pass.

Patricia bends down and addresses Donna’s stomach.

PATRICIA

Little tike. You makin your mummy be all sicky in the mornings?

DONNA

Is she alright?

EDDIE

Already had two vodka tonics. And a Valium.

PATRICIA

Are you playin mischief with your mummy’s tummy in there?

EDDIE

Think that’s bad, wait till the fuckin thing’s born.

PATRICIA

Oh, Eddie.

EDDIE

You’ll pine for the days when all he made you do was sing to the toilet bowl.

DONNA

Dad! It might be a girl. I tried callin you earlier. No one was pickin up.

EDDIE

Oh yeah we had some. Stuff to sort out.

DONNA

What stuff?

EDDIE

Nothin.

DONNA

Were you alright getting here?

EDDIE

Why we’re not late are we?

DONNA

No, not. Really late. Just.

PATRICIA

Sorry love.

DONNA

No it’s fine. It’s just the timin’s quite. Precarious. On the food.

EDDIE

Late. We’re not late.

DONNA

No, not late late. We did say seven though. And it is.

EDDIE

How many times we turned up and your make-up’s half done?

DONNA

Quarter past.

EDDIE

One shoe on, screechin at us for comin early. Can’t win.

DONNA

I’m just nervous about it all. With the cookin and that.

PATRICIA

Don’t be nervous.

DONNA

I just want it all to be alright.

PATRICIA

Everythin will be fine.

EDDIE

And if it ain’t there’s a lovely new foreign place opened down the road.

PATRICIA

Dad!

EDDIE

That was a joke love.

PATRICIA

Just relax.

EDDIE

As it happens we did have a bit of a nightmare.

PATRICIA

Here we go.

DONNA

What’s that?

PATRICIA

His new car.

EDDIE

Like tryin to drive a bleedin submarine on wheels.

PATRICIA

He hasn’t shut up about it since he got it.

DONNA

You got a new car? Another one?

PATRICIA

Spent twenty minutes tryin to get it in gear.

EDDIE

Upgrade love. Happens automatically.

PATRICIA

Can you believe that?

EDDIE

I want the old one back. They’re just addin stuff it don’t need now.

PATRICIA

It was quite funny actually. We literally didn’t have a clue how to get it started.

Nick returns with a bottle of wine and glasses. He uncorks, pours, etc.

EDDIE

Pointless. Just make it go forward, that’s all I want.

NICK

What’s this?

PATRICIA

His new toy.

NICK

Oh.

EDDIE

You know the er. Supercharged HSE.

NICK

Right.

EDDIE

Range Rover. You were sat in it a few hours ago.

NICK

Oh yeah yeah yeah. The new. Yeah. You said it was givin you trouble?

EDDIE

I want me old one back.

NICK

Yeah? Not as good this one?

EDDIE

Nowhere near mate.

NICK

Yeah I heard that it weren’t as good. Been lookin at that model myself. But the features.

EDDIE

Pointless most of them.

NICK

Yeah, too many of them, I thought. Pointless. Shame because the original model was simpler.

EDDIE

Well it was ideal. Didn’t need to start messin around with everythin.

NICK

Yeah, just had the right amount of. Stuff in it. Gadgets and.

DONNA

What’s wrong with the new one?

EDDIE

Well, fuckin. Actually I don’t wanna talk about it.

DONNA

Nick what’s wrong with it?

NICK

Hah?

DONNA

What’s the difference?

NICK

Between the.

EDDIE

Classic Vogue and the Supercharged HSE.

NICK

Yeah. Well. The, uh. You see. Well it’s quite complicated really.

DONNA

Too complicated for me right.

NICK

No I didn’t.

DONNA

Cos I’m a girl.

PATRICIA

You’re a woman darlin.

NICK

No I wasn’t. I just.

DONNA

You’re always treatin me like I’m ignorant.

EDDIE

Give her the basics.

NICK

Yeah. Sorry Don. Yeah, see the original model was. Simpler. You know, it could navigate off-road and. And. And on road quite well. It had the balance just right.

EDDIE

Well this one’s fine when you get it movin.

NICK

Yeah. Yeah the main problem ain’t that. It’s. It’s to do with the new features they’ve added.

DONNA

What are they though?

NICK

There’s a few, see. There’s a couple of different things that make it. Not quite as good. Like. Where to start really.

Beat.

EDDIE

Well it’s this new gearbox innit.

NICK

Yeah! Yeah the gearbox. See they’ve added a new gearbox and it’s. It’s.

EDDIE

It’s right up on the steering wheel. Like a paddle that you have to flick. Pointless.

NICK

Yeah completely pointless. I saw that and I just thought. Nah. Not for me. Gimme a stick any day.

EDDIE

It’s got eight gears an all. Who the fuck needs eight gears in a car?

NICK

Too many, I thought. When I saw that.

Nicky nods.

NICK

So that’s basically the problem with it.

EDDIE

And don’t get me started on this new Gradient Acceleration Control and Terrain Response System nonsense.

NICK

Well I weren’t even gonna go into that. All sorts of problems really.

DONNA

I didn’t know you was into cars.

NICK

Who me? Do me a favour. I used to be down the rally track every day growin up. Yeah I love them. Ain’t you seen all them Auto Traders I got stacked in the garage?

DONNA

No.

NICK

You ain’t been lookin then. Yeah I’m a big car man.

EDDIE

Must be. Lookin at a model like that. Off the forecourt. Not cheap.

NICK

No, well.

EDDIE

Didn’t realise you was in the market for a new motor.

NICK

They got a pretty good payment plan. Installments over a. Period.

EDDIE

Right. Like a mortgage.

NICK

Yeah. Like a.

PATRICIA

Not far off an all. Price you pay for one of them. It’s too big. They’re all too big nowadays.

Eddie sniffs his wine.

EDDIE

What’s this, Burgundy?

NICK

Yeah Burgundy yeah. You like it? It’s nice innit?

EDDIE

Depends what we’re havin it with.

NICK

Yeah well I took that into consideration. We’re havin beef, by the way. So I picked it out special cos it goes well with red meat.

DONNA

You thought we were havin lamb.

NICK

Cheers Donna. That’s also a red meat, if you’re. Shouldn’t you be preparin the starters? Timing’s so important and that.

PATRICIA

Yeah what we havin?

DONNA

Well ‘to start’, I thought the menu should reflect Nick’s trip to France. As a celebration for comin back home. And of course for.

She winks to her parents, nods towards Nick.

EDDIE

So. Don’t keep us in suspense.

DONNA

I’m doin. Minestrone soup.

EDDIE

That’s Italian.

DONNA

Yeah I’m doin the French version.

EDDIE

What French version?

DONNA

The French version.

EDDIE

Of an Italian soup?

DONNA

It’s called fusion.

EDDIE

Confusion more like.

DONNA

If you don’t wanna eat it then don’t.

PATRICIA

He’ll eat it. I said behave.

NICK

Sounds lovely Donna.

EDDIE

Yeah. I like Italian food and I like French food so this should be a match made in fuckin heaven.

DONNA

God you’re in a right mood tonight. What’s wrong with him mum?

Patricia takes a swig of wine.

DONNA

When was the last time you cooked anythin dad?

EDDIE

I trust your culinary judgement my darlin. Hundred percent.

DONNA

Right well we’ve wasted enough time. Might as well get on with it.

PATRICIA

Do you need a hand love?

DONNA

No I can manage.

PATRICIA

I’ll come through anyway. You might need help.

Donna and Patricia exit to the kitchen.

Pause.

NICK

So cheers for pickin us up earlier.

EDDIE

Yeah.

NICK

Didn’t expect it.

EDDIE

Had a spare couple of hours. Thought I’d waste it on your ugly mug.

NICK

Heh. Cheers though.

EDDIE

It’s easy to get yourself down. Comin back from a trip like that. Just wanted to be there to say. Fuck it. Don’t matter. These things happen.

NICK

Yeah.

EDDIE

Who wants to borrow from the French anyway?

NICK
Exactly. No I mean. I thought it was a good idea at the time.

EDDIE

We all did mate. Sometimes it don’t work out how it should.

Beat.

EDDIE

And plus. You know. I needed a favour.

NICK

Yeah.

EDDIE

Another one. Heh.

NICK

It’s no bother.

Pause.

NICK

Got a new rower the other day. New rowin machine.

Beat.

NICK

Supposed to be a good one.

EDDIE

Yeah?

NICK

Yeah supposed to be. Put it in the spare room.

EDDIE

Won’t be spare very long.

NICK

No. Suppose not.

Beat.

NICK

Be good for when it gets colder though. It’s warm now, but in the winter. Save me runnin in the.

Eddie stamps his foot on the decking.

NICK

Dark.

EDDIE

Done a good job haven’t they?

NICK

What?

Nick looks down at the decking.

NICK

Oh, yeah.

EDDIE

Hardwood Balau that. Real deal.

NICK

Yeah?

EDDIE

Kiln dried. Usually put in softwood. Needs changin every few years. Gets waterlogged and that. But this lot’ll notice, round here. People buyin up these places. Can’t really fob them off. Not worth the grief.

NICK

Yeah.

EDDIE

Plus we get this for three quid a metre.

NICK

Really?

EDDIE

That’s unheard of.

NICK

Yeah that’s good. Good price.

EDDIE

Good with water as well this. Won’t rot. There’s no knots in it so the water don’t.

NICK

With our weather, that’s.

EDDIE

You know you gotta oil this right?

NICK

Oh yeah?

EDDIE

Every six months, you gotta give it a coat of oil. Otherwise it cracks on you. Totally ruin the finish. Becomes unstable after a while. So just.

NICK

Yeah, course. I’ll.

He taps his head.

Eddie looks off to the kitchen.

EDDIE

Right, shall we do this?

NICK

Yeah alright.

EDDIE

Let’s get it done quick alright.

Eddie and Nick exit round to the front of the building.

The patio is empty for a moment.

Donna and Patricia enter, setting the table.

DONNA

So basically you join a syndicate, right.

PATRICIA

Yeah.

DONNA

So you go in four, five ways, and that way you can place a big enough order for them to do it.

PATRICIA

Yeah.

DONNA

Think it’s like four thousand dresses. Five thousand dresses. Somethin like that.

PATRICIA

Right.

DONNA

And so you go in with an order big enough, and they make them and send them over. And they’re all the same, like, template. You know? All the same design.

PATRICIA

Yeah.

DONNA

Same style. But you can choose the patterns and any prints you want on them. Think there’s like ten different prints and then buttons and stuff as well. They got a catalogue.

PATRICIA

Yeah.

DONNA

And then they make them over there and ship them to you. But then you can add other detailin and stuff as well.

PATRICIA

Yeah. Make them.

DONNA

Make them look home made. Add your own personal design touches. And that makes it bespoke, see. That’s what makes them bespoke dresses.

PATRICIA

Yeah.

DONNA

Cos even though the dresses are the same.

They exit to the kitchen.

Eddie and Nick enter heaving a suitcase onto the patio.

EDDIE

Hang on. Let’s just.

They dump it by the back wall. Take a second to catch their breath.

NICK

Heavy.

EDDIE

Yeah.

NICK

What you say it was?

EDDIE

Irish Wolfhound.

NICK

Irish Wolfhound.

EDDIE

Beautiful. Pat’s favourite.

NICK

Shame.

EDDIE

Don’t tell her.

NICK

You haven’t told her?

Eddie shakes his head.

EDDIE

Break her heart. Weren’t pleasant. Had to use a nail gun.

NICK

Bloody hell.

EDDIE

All I had to hand. She’s not got the constitution for it, not at the moment. I’ll tell her I took it to the vet or somethin.

NICK

What does she think’s in the suitcase?

EDDIE

She don’t know about it does she?

NICK

When you gonna tell her?

EDDIE

In time. When she’s feelin better. Not a word from you, alright?

NICK

Yeah, course.

EDDIE

I mean it mate.

NICK

Eddie.

Nick places his hand on his heart.

Eddie nods.

EDDIE

Lyme disease. Shame really. Contagious, it was. Nasty bug. Bit like Rabies or something.

NICK

That’s awful.

EDDIE

Good as gold, usually, these things. Lovely temperament. This one was goin wild though. I knew something was up. It was a beautiful thing.

NICK

What was it called?

EDDIE

How the fuck should I know?

Eddie looks over to the kitchen again.

EDDIE

Still chattin. So we’ll put it by the other thing, alright?

NICK

Yeah. Where the jacuzzi’s gonna go.

EDDIE

No one’s gonna dig that up in a hurry.

NICK

Exactly.

EDDIE

I’d do it on my own land but I can’t risk the virus spreadin through the soil. To the other dogs like.

NICK

That’d be awful.

EDDIE

Cost me a fortune. Load of pedigrees goin funny. Plus you’ve already got a great big hole in your garden. Thought we could chuck it in there rather than diggin up a load of turf.

NICK

Yeah it’s no bother. None at all.

EDDIE

No real chance of it spreadin. All wrapped in plastic.

NICK

Still. Wanna be careful.

EDDIE

You had any trouble with the, er.

He nods off to the garden.

NICK

No. No nothing. Mind you I’ve only been back the afternoon. Don’t think Donna’s noticed.

EDDIE

Cheers for that.

NICK

Nah it’s nothin.

EDDIE

Really helped us out of a.

NICK

Like you said, who’s gonna be digging up a jacuzzi?

EDDIE

Nasty little.

NICK

Honestly it’s.

EDDIE

This hasn’t gone unnoticed. You pullin a solid like that.

NICK

For the company, innit?

EDDIE

That’s right. Good attitude.

NICK

You had any trouble? Whilst I was away?

EDDIE

Nah. Nothing. What, with the.

NICK

Yeah.

EDDIE

Nothin.

NICK

Who was he? If you don’t.

EDDIE

Just some kid. Irish lad from Seven Kings. Been with us about six months. Forty feet in the air without an hard hat on.

NICK

Jesus.

EDDIE

Yeah it’s tragic. He was pissin around, not observin protocol. Some of these lads, they got a death wish.

NICK

Yeah. Literally.

EDDIE

I mean there’s safety rules for a reason. Health and safety officers get a load of flak but really.

NICK

Absolutely.

EDDIE

You want to ignore them you pay the consequences. How he got all the way up there without an hard hat I’ll ever know. Foreman’s a fuckin wreck about it.

NICK

And he just fell?

EDDIE

Thing like that would have us shut down. Inquests and all sorts. Can’t have that now. Not with.

NICK

Yeah course. What about the family?

EDDIE

He weren’t no good, Nick. I did them a favour takin him on in the first place. They were sad, like. Don’t get me wrong. And we compensated them nice. They didn’t walk away with nothin.

NICK

That’s alright then.

EDDIE

They said he takes off for weeks at a time anyway. Just goes off by himself. No-one’ll bat an eyelid.

NICK

Good of them really.

EDDIE

Breaks your heart but what can you do?

NICK

Guess so.

EDDIE

Told the mother we’d bury him on site so they could have a little. Few candles and that. But it’s too risky. All number of reasons to go diggin round a construction site. New houses goin up. Foundations need recalibratin. Pipin not laid right.

NICK

Wouldn’t wanna risk it.

EDDIE

Much safer out here.

NICK

I weren’t even around to help out.

EDDIE

For the best.

NICK

I could’ve given you a hand.

Eddie shakes his head.

NICK

Well if they ever wanna come round. Light some candles.

EDDIE

Don’t be daft.

Beat.

NICK

How’s Daniel been? Feels like I’ve not seen him in ages.

EDDIE

Resilient as ever mate. He barely noticed you were gone.

NICK

Oh that’s nice to hear.

EDDIE

Worse than that, I could say the same thing about the lads in the office.

NICK

Now I know you’re lyin.

EDDIE

Here let’s get this shifted before.

The Donna and Patricia re-enter with dishes.

EDDIE

Fuck.

Nick shunts the suitcase away to a corner.

DONNA

You should see her now mum, honestly she looks like a burns victim.

She presents the starter.

DONNA

French minestrone with foccacia bread.

EDDIE

Foccacia bread?

PATRICIA

Don’t start Eddie.

DONNA

Bon Appetit.

They sit down to eat. It is clearly, for some unknown reason, awful.

NICK

It’s nice.

PATRICIA

Yeah lovely.

NICK

Nice and crunchy.

DONNA

Do you like it dad?

Eddie drinks his wine.

DONNA

Daddy?

EDDIE

I’m very proud of you sweetheart.

PATRICIA

Tell us about France Nick. How was it?

NICK

It was.

PATRICIA

Was it nice?

NICK

Yeah it was nice yeah. Mostly business. Meetings and that.

PATRICIA

Was it glamorous?

NICK

Err. Yeah. I guess in a way, it was quite. You know. I saw a Lambourghini.

EDDIE

Yeah?

NICK

Yeah. Lambourghini Countache. Bright yellow. That was quite glamorous I suppose. Saw a Maserati an all. Think it was a Maserati. Might’ve been a Lotus actually.

PATRICIA

Sounds lovely.

NICK

Yeah it’s weird to think I was there this morning. Woke up in another country, now I’m here. I brought you back some biscuits.

PATRICIA

Ooh lovely.

NICK

I’ll bring them through.

PATRICIA

We’ll have them later with a cup of tea.

NICK

And a lovely bottle of wine Pat.

PATRICIA

You know me so well.

EDDIE

You two wanna stop flirtin at the dinner table?

They laugh.

NICK

Yeah watch out. Soon as your back’s turned! No I’m jokin, obviously. Just.

Beat.

EDDIE

Real shame about the investment deal though.

DONNA

What happened?

NICK

Whole thing just. Pffff. They’re very cautious out there, very cautious.

DONNA

So you went all the way out there for nothin?

EDDIE

They’re very tetchy over there. Don’t wanna invest oversees. Too proud. They don’t wanna get on board with somethin, there’s very little you can do about it. Stubborn, you know.

PATRICIA

I love Paris.

EDDIE

How do you know?

PATRICIA

I’ve always wanted to go but this one won’t have nothing to do with it.

EDDIE

Too fussy, France.

PATRICIA

He always wants to go Spain.

EDDIE

Hotter.

PATRICIA

It ain’t all about hot you know. What about culture?

EDDIE

She’s the one who wants to spend all day on the bloody beach. I tell her we’ll go Spain then where it’s nice and hot. You’ll catch a breeze in France. You won’t like it. Too draughty.

PATRICIA

I only wanna sit on the beach cos there’s nothing else to do. If there was a castle or something.

EDDIE

A castle?

PATRICIA

Or something old to look around. An old village or something.

EDDIE

We’ll go France next time then. Jesus fuckin.

PATRICIA

Yeah right.

EDDIE

Nah nah nah. You can pick the holidays from now on. Save me the bother. Closer anyway, France. Cheaper flights.

PATRICIA

And when was the last time you paid for a flight?

EDDIE

When was the last time you paid for anythin?

PATRICIA

Piss off you old sod. Bet you wouldn’t even know how to book a flight.

EDDIE

I just said you can have the holiday of your dreams woman. What’s all the grief for?

PATRICIA

Oh forget it.

EDDIE

Listen to her.

PATRICIA

I said forget it.

Pause.

They eat. Patricia takes a large swig of wine.

NICK

Yeah it was nice anyway Pat.

Patricia tops herself up.

EDDIE

We’ll have Dubai soon anyway. Got everythin there, won’t need to go anywhere else. You know they got a seven star hotel. Seven.

Beat.

EDDIE

Shaped like a big sail.

PATRICIA

How am I supposed to get a tan when I can’t wear nothing above the knee?

EDDIE

I thought you weren’t bothered about gettin a tan?

PATRICIA

Well a tan’s a tan isn’t it?

EDDIE

I don’t know love. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. A tan’s a tan? Yes it is a tan. A tan is a tan, what the fuck has that got to do with anything?

PATRICIA

It means there’s more to choosin an holiday than wherever some dodgy associate’s got a villa.

DONNA

Can you stop arguin please? Pair of yous. Ruinin the ambience.

PATRICIA

Sorry love.

DONNA

Hostin a dinner party’s all about creatin the right ambience.

EDDIE

Thought it was all about timin.

PATRICIA

Eddie!

EDDIE

We ruined the ambience an all now? Why don’t we just trash the fuckin place and be done with it?

DONNA

Just!

Nick takes Donna’s hand. She breathes.

They continue eating. Patricia drinks.

PATRICIA

You been up to much today Nick?

NICK

Me? Nah. Only been back the afternoon really. Unpacked. Went for a run.

PATRICIA

Went for a run outside?

NICK

Yeah.

PATRICIA

What, you went round the lake?

NICK

Yeah.

PATRICIA

I love it round there. So peaceful.

NICK

Yeah it’s nice.

PATRICIA

You like keepin fit don’t you?

NICK

I do rather.

PATRICIA

You can tell. You can really tell.

NICK

Just sayin to Eddie I bought a new rowin machine the other day.

PATRICIA

Yeah Donna said.

NICK

It’s alright.

PATRICIA

I’ve got a treadmill. Handy aren’t they?

EDDIE

Yeah and how many times you use it? World’s most expensive clothes horse.

PATRICIA

I don’t see you rushin to get on it. You’re the one who could do with a go.

NICK

Be good for when it’s colder.

PATRICIA

Yeah exactly.

NICK

My knees always go in the winter.

PATRICIA
You don’t want that.

EDDIE

I thought you were excited about Dubai?

PATRICIA

I am. You were just doin my head in.

EDDIE

Tell you what, I’ll buy a chateau in France, this time next year. Buy a fuckin vineyard.

DONNA

Would you do that?

EDDIE

If it’ll shut her up.

Patricia punches Eddie in the arm. He laughs and finishes his wine.

EDDIE

Produce better stuff than this piss an all. No offence mate.

He hands the glass to Nick.

EDDIE

Go on then. Top us up.

Nick takes the glass and fills it with wine.

He hands it back, then goes to the kitchen for another bottle, refills the table.

DONNA

How come you can make so much money in Dubai then?

EDDIE

They need buildings. There’s no regulations out there so you can bang them up all over the place. Nice ones an all. Lot of wealthy people out there. Mansions and that. They’re buildin islands for Christ sake. They’re actually manufacturing land. And they can’t use it for growin cos it’s all salted.

DONNA

Salted?

EDDIE

Yeah they salt the land.

DONNA

Why they do that?

NICK

Osmosis. Remember at school?

EDDIE

So it don’t get washed into the sea. There ain’t nothin to do but build houses. And the government can’t even afford to finish the ones they started let alone build new ones. They’re outsourcin it all. All the construction. There’s no room in London any more. No room to fuckin move let alone build.

DONNA

What’s wrong with Essex?

EDDIE

That’s another discussion altogether, but if you’re talkin in terms of construction.

DONNA

There’s loads of land round here. Fields and that.

EDDIE

Yeah and they wanna keep it like that. Besides local council will have me in a tutu before they offer me a license. Out there mind.

DONNA

It’s easier. I get it.

EDDIE

No red tape, no nothin. Whole place is a fuckin playground. I’m tellin you we are this close.

He indicates an inch.

EDDIE

This close.

NICK

Yeah it’s gonna be big. All anyone talks about in the office.

EDDIE

Good. That’s good to hear.

Pause.

EDDIE

Right, now that we’re all sat down, whilst we’re on the subject, and whilst we’re not at each other’s throats. I got an announcement to make.

DONNA

About what?

EDDIE

Actually it’s more of an offer.

Eddie reaches into his jacket pocket and takes out a large envelope. He hands it to Nick.

He makes the sound of a fanfare.

EDDIE

There you go son. Congratulations.

NICK

What.

Nick opens the envelope and takes out two plane tickets.

DONNA

What is it?

NICK

It’s plane tickets Don.

EDDIE

I want you out there.

PATRICIA

So he does know how to book them.

EDDIE

I want you heading a team. It’s a promotion.

DONNA

Bloody hell.

NICK

Right.

EDDIE

Well look happy!

They laugh.

NICK

This is.

DONNA

Are we gonna live in Dubai?

EDDIE

You can keep this place.

NICK

I was gonna say. We only just moved in.

EDDIE

Rent it out, and then when you’re ready to settle back down in Essex you can move back.

DONNA

That’s amazin. God dad thank you so much! Oh I can’t wait.

NICK

And how long. Do you see us bein out there for?

EDDIE

Dunno, maybe a year. Two if you like it. Be the boss when I’m not around.

NICK

As long as that? Jesus.

Eddie raises his glass.

EDDIE

A toast. Cheers.

EVERYONE

Cheers.

EDDIE

To new beginnings. A new start.

Everyone drinks except Nick. He’s staring at the tickets.

NICK

There’s only two tickets.

EDDIE

What, you wanna put your feet up? I know it’s a long flight, but.

They laugh.

NICK

No I mean. I mean. What about.

EDDIE

Daniel?

NICK

Yeah. I mean.

Patricia exits to the kitchen.

EDDIE

I thought about that, I know it may seem a bit odd goin without him at first.

NICK

Without him?

EDDIE

Just at first.

NICK

Yeah. It would seem odd, that.

EDDIE

But then I thought he’s at the centre all week ain’t he?

NICK

Yeah, but.

EDDIE

We’ll look to get him out in good time. First few months.

NICK

Few months?

EDDIE

Meanwhile you can come back every now and then. We’ll arrange proper care for him. Get all that sorted. Nurses and whatnot.

NICK

Right, but he won’t.

EDDIE

Proper 24 hour care back here.

NICK

He won’t. Be with me though.

EDDIE

He’s got a support network here, ain’t he? He loves them nurses.

NICK

But he’s my son. I’m his dad.

Patricia returns with a fresh bottle of wine. She tops herself up.

DONNA

Am I definitely goin too?

EDDIE

Too right.

DONNA

That’s so excitin. I could set up my business over there. It’s closer to China. Is it closer to China?

EDDIE

Yeah.

DONNA

They all wear lovely dresses over there don’t they?

EDDIE

The best. They’re all loaded.

DONNA

Do you think I’ll like it?

EDDIE

You’ll love it. It’s got all your favourite shops over there now. All the celebrity chefs got their own restaurants. You’ll barely notice the difference.

PATRICIA

Except you’ll have to wear pyjamas all day.

EDDIE

So there we go. Something to get excited about.

PATRICIA

In 40 degree heat.

DONNA

I can’t wait!

EDDIE

You won’t have to. New house. New baby.

DONNA

New business.

EDDIE

New start.

NICK

I don’t know if I want a new start.

EDDIE

I’ve got some brochures in the boot. Something to read on the plane. Hang on.

He moves to get up.

DONNA

You ain’t eaten your soup dad.

EDDIE

Tell you what, we’ll get you cookin lessons over there. Something to do with your day.

DONNA

Oh. What’s that supposed to mean?

EDDIE

Nothin, I’m just sayin it’ll be a good use of your time out there. Give you something to focus on.

DONNA

What about the baby? I’ll have that to look after.

EDDIE

You can get a nanny. You’ll need to know how to cook if you’re bringing a child into the world.

DONNA

And the business. What about.

EDDIE

Well first things first.

DONNA

So you thought it was crap then, is what you’re sayin?

EDDIE

It was a solid first effort, but it’s not really to my taste.

DONNA

Not to your taste. What is to your taste then dad?

EDDIE

Is it French, is it Italian, does it matter? At the end of the day I don’t think either nation would wanna claim it as their own.

DONNA

Oh dad! Is it that bad mum? Is it Nick?

Nick looks at Donna, then at Eddie.

NICK

Uh, it’s. Um. it’s not without its strengths, Don. You know it has, it has. Character. Havin said that, it’s perhaps not, uh.

Donna starts clearing the dishes away, distressed.

DONNA

Spend all day in that bloody kitchen. Can’t even just appreciate.

NICK

No Don, let me. I was just sayin.

She marches off into the kitchen.

Patricia tuts.

PATRICIA

Well I hope you’re pleased with yourselves.

EDDIE

She needs to learn Pat.

Patricia follows Donna into the kitchen.

Pause.

EDDIE

Well that’s ruined the moment. Twenty-five years old and can’t cook a fuckin soup.

Nick forces a laugh.

EDDIE

That’ll be out a packet an all. She’s done something to it. Found a way to fuck it up.

NICK

Least she gave it a go, eh?

EDDIE

Twenty-five years old.

NICK

She’s really taken to it actually. All the housewife stuff. Yeah, I think she’s dead keen to get settled in her own place. She might find the move a bit stressful in her position. I know she’s excited now, but.

EDDIE

She’ll be fine.

NICK

I know what you’re saying about Daniel. But I really don’t feel comfortable leavin him.

EDDIE

He’s got his nurses. We’ll cover the weekend care.

NICK

He’s. I think it’ll be a bit distressin. I mean I know he ain’t Donna’s but she’s like a mother to him.

EDDIE

Is that right?

NICK

She’s good with him. Really good. I think they get on well. It’s not easy sometimes, I know that. But she’s really learnin to.

EDDIE

That’s not how she tells it.

NICK

So I don’t think it’s really feasible, all said. Thank you though. For thinkin of me.

EDDIE

I need you out there mate. I think you’re ready for it.

NICK

I am grateful and that, but.

EDDIE

You’ve just leapfrogged about four people in the food chain. Your salary’s gonna double.

NICK

Yeah, I.

EDDIE

You’re gonna head up an entire department. Only been with us ten months.

NICK

Yeah I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but.

EDDIE

You think this was easy for me?

NICK

No I appreciate.

EDDIE

I’m gonna get all kinds of grief. But I think you’ve got what it takes.

NICK

Well that’s.

EDDIE

And besides I have an obligation.

NICK

I hope you didn’t just go for me cos of that.

EDDIE

Let me tell you something. When I was your age I was commutin all week. Leavin Pat at home, only comin back on weekends. And Donna. She was tiny. Couldn’t have been a year old. It was tough. Course it was. But we all knew it was the right thing to do. And lookin back. At where we are now.

Patricia leans against the doorway, glass in hand.

EDDIE

Ain’t that right Pat? I was just sayin that we had to make some tough decisions for the sake of our family early on. Didn’t we? But it all came good in the end.

PAT

Kitchen’s on fire.

NICK and EDDIE stand up.

NICK

Oh shit.

EDDIE

I’ll deal with it.

Patricia slumps back into the kitchen.

Eddie points to the suitcase.

EDDIE

You get rid of that. Quietly.

Nick turns to the suitcase.

NICK

Right. Yeah. Course.

Eddie exits into the kitchen. Nick observes the suitcase.

After a moment, the suitcase topples over of its own accord. Nick jumps back, hand to his mouth.

He approaches it slowly, leans down with an outstretched arm, flinches, then finally places his hand on the suitcase.

Beat.

He reels back in revulsion.

NICK

Ffff.

He stares at the suitcase. Paces. Breathes. Approaches the suitcase again for another feel.

He pulls away again, feeling movement. Possibly a sound.

He moves over to the kitchen door.

NICK

Eddie. Eddie mate I think.

No response.

NICK

Eddie. Eddie.

Eddie comes to the doorway.

EDDIE

I’m a little bit busy mate.

NICK

I think.

EDDIE

Just get it shifted.

Eddie goes back inside. The fire alarm sounds.

NICK

Eddie. Eddie.

He contemplates his next move.

He steps in and stamps hard onto the suitcase, then quickly moves away.

He waits. The fire alarm is still beeping.

He checks the suitcase again. Still movement.

NICK

Fuck.

He approaches the suitcase, loses his bottle and retreats. Stares at it. Then approaches again and stamps on it hard, twice. Then a third time.

He waits for another moment, scanning the suitcase for movement.

The fire alarm stops.

Nick quickly sets the suitcase upright by the handle and starts dragging it across the patio.

Patricia enters.

PATRICIA

Warm in there.

She sees Nick with the suitcase.

PATRICIA

What’s that?

NICK

This? Nothin, just. Eddie asked if I could.

He nods over to the garden.

PATRICIA

Doin his dirty work again are ya?

NICK

I was just movin it. Didn’t want it around when we’re eatin.

PATRICIA

What’s in it?

Beat.

NICK

A badger.

PATRICIA

A badger?

NICK

Yeah yeah it’s a. Badger. Big one an all. Must’ve been a daddy.

PATRICIA

What happened?

NICK

Eddie done it in with his car. Didn’t wanna tell you.

PATRICIA

Fuck me.

NICK

Yeah. went right over it. Bumpf.

PATRICIA

He never told me.

NICK

Yeah, said he didn’t want to alarm anyone. You know it’s quite. Alarmin. To just. Tell someone somethin like that. Just come out with it.

PATRICIA

I killed a badger.

NICK

Yeah.

PATRICIA

Pat, I just ran over a badger in my new car.

Beat.

NICK

Yeah.

Patricia thinks about it.

PATRICIA

Hasn’t left a mark on the bonnet.

NICK

Well it’s a sturdy vehicle. It’s a sturdy vehicle. Designed to.

PATRICIA

Kill things, the way he drives it. To old to be drivin a car like that. Dangerous. Supposin it was a child he hit.

NICK

That would be.

PATRICIA

It’s too much. You shoulda seen him. Fiddlin around with all the little. Little levers and buttons. I was embarrassed for him. Looked like an old man.

Nick nods.

NICK

Well I better.

He continues with the suitcase.

PATRICIA

Oh dear. Don’t strain your muscles will you? That shirt’s lovely Nick.

NICK

Oh. It’s an old one this.

PATRICIA

Really nice. Goes with your tan. You do tan well, don’t you?

NICK

Do I?

PATRICIA

You’ve gone a deep golden brown. Like an Italian man. You got any Italian in you?

NICK

Nah. Not me.

PATRICIA

I’d love an Italian in me. I mean. Well. Instead I got some German, a bit of South African and a fuck of a lot of Chelmsford.

NICK

Heh.

PATRICIA

It’s them eyes of yours. Make you look exotic. Passionate, you know. You’ll tan lovely over there. Just you wait.

Eddie and Donna enter.

EDDIE

Just gave you this fuckin place and you wanna burn it down.

DONNA

I said it weren’t my fault.

PATRICIA

Did you sort it?

EDDIE

Not before it scorched all the tiles. That groutin was only finished Tuesday. Now it’s all bloody black.

DONNA

I’m sorry! I said I was sorry. Didn’t do it on purpose.

EDDIE

Gonna have people lookin round here. What they gonna think of that?

Eddie stops as he sees the suitcase. He looks at Nick, who makes a silent gesture of apology.

DONNA

I’m tryina do a dinner party on my own. I’m tired, I’m pregnant.

PATRICIA

I’ll do the main course. You rest love.

DONNA

No, I can handle it! I can manage.

PATRICIA

I’m only tryin to help.

DONNA

I don’t need any help I’m alright I just.

She puts her face in her hands.

DONNA

I just want it to be okay.

EDDIE

Sorry Don. What we havin?

DONNA

Roast beef. Now I know what you’re gonna say, it’s not French. But I’m doin it with runner beans and french fries. And onion gravy. And onions are French, so.

EDDIE

Onions are French?

DONNA

Yeah.

EDDIE

Onions come from France? Is that what you’re saying?

PATRICIA

Eddie.

EDDIE

No I’m just.

DONNA

Er, ever heard of French onion soup?

EDDIE

There’s a reason why they have to specify that the soup is French. If onions were French then it’d just be called onion soup.

PATRICIA

Eddie!

Eddie relents.

PATRICIA

Sure you don’t need a hand doin the beef?

DONNA

I said I can manage.

She exits.

EDDIE

I’ll have it rare if anyone’s interested.

PATRICIA

When were you gonna tell me you killed a badger?

NICK

Er.

EDDIE

What?

PATRICIA

With that new tank of yours. Poor thing. Mindin it’s own business. And then you come along and.

Eddie and Nick share a look.

EDDIE

It was dark wasn’t it? Thing’s completely black, I didn’t. Just came right out.

PATRICIA

Should be more careful.

EDDIE

It weren’t my fault Pat, alright? Leave it. Look let’s not.

He nods to Donna in the kitchen.

EDDIE

Let’s just try and keep it together. For her sake. Just a nice. Family. Yeah.

They sit.

Patricia drinks.

PATRICIA

So, how you feelin Nick? About Dubai. You excited?

NICK

Er.

EDDIE

He’s nervous, ain’t ya? He’ll be headin up the logistics team.

PATRICIA

Right.

EDDIE

Big deal that. Course, logistics means you’re set a task, say, movin an object from one place to another place, and you get it done. Can be quite tricky, apparently.

PATRICIA

Oh I’m sure he’ll manage. He’s a capable young man. Aren’t you love?

NICK

I’d like to think so.

EDDIE

Well you’d think, wouldn’t you?

PATRICIA

He could move anythin, arms like that. Young muscle.

EDDIE

Think it’s about time we got you workin with professionals. Some of the boys I got on the London floor team, Jesus Christ. Don’t know their arsehole from the hole in their face. Get them confused an all most of the time. Honestly, like workin with a bunch of retards.

PATRICIA

Oh, Eddie.

EDDIE

Sorry Nick mate.

NICK

No no.

EDDIE

Sorry, I fuckin.

NICK

No honestly.

EDDIE

That wasn’t a thing.

NICK

Means something else now anyway.

EDDIE

Yeah exactly. Just came out.

NICK

Honestly Eddie. Don’t even.

PATRICIA

Be careful what you say, alright? Shouldn’t really be usin words like that anyway. At the table.

EDDIE

Yeah well. Sorry.

Pause.

EDDIE

Anyway I was sayin. Gonna have the London team dissolved by Christmas.

NICK

What, completely?

EDDIE

Waste of money. It’s piss, in comparison. Can outsource all of it, easy. Plus we can take our contacts over with us. Most of them chompin at the bit to go international.

NICK

Yeah but. You ain’t even finalised yet. With Dubai. The authorities and that. Ain’t even got all the funding in place yet.

EDDIE

It’ll all come together. I’m telling you.

PATRICIA

Better had do.

Nick reads the plane tickets. A realisation

NICK

Eddie.

EDDIE

Yes mate.

NICK

This flight leaves tomorrow morning.

EDDIE

Didn’t you know?

NICK

I mean it leaves in like.

Nick checks his watch.

EDDIE

No point hangin around.

NICK

It’s like first thing tomorrow. How we gonna.

EDDIE

We’ll help you pack. Still plenty of time. Get the rest sent over.

NICK

Yeah but we can’t just.

EDDIE

Don’t you worry about anythin mate. I’ll get it all sorted. Worst comes to worst we lay you a few grand and you get a whole new set of gear when you get over there. I’ll have a place ready for you by the time you land. Right near the beach.

NICK

Yeah but. Daniel’s still at yours.

PATRICIA

Yeah.

NICK

He’s with Karla. So when am I gonna see him? Before I leave? Should I go over tonight?

PATRICIA

Don’t go. He’ll be sleepin now.

NICK

So what, I just. I can’t not see him before I leave. I can’t not see my own son.

EDDIE

You’ll see him. You will see him. We’ll arrange flights as soon as you get over there. But right now I need you on the ground layin down the infrastructure. Meeting people, shakin hands. This is how it works mate. You wanna get ahead in business you gotta be prepared to make the odd personal sacrifice.

NICK

Yeah but there’s personal sacrifices and then there’s.

EDDIE

He won’t even know. His age, he won’t remember nothing.

NICK

He’s smart you know. He’s a smart boy. He can see what’s goin on. He understands.

EDDIE

No one’s sayin he isn’t.

Donna enters with plates. She hands them out.

DONNA

What you lot bangin on about?

She exits.

EDDIE

I can see you panicking. Relax. It’ll be lovely out there, this time of year.

Donna re-enters with the other plates, serves them and sits.

EDDIE

Cheers love. And as you said this is a big deal for us. Big changes afoot. Construction game in England it’s. Very murky. Lots of backscratchin. Palm greasin. Intimidation. Exploitin loopholes. Never sat easily with me, any of that.

Patricia laughs.

EDDIE

Dubai though. We can get straight as an arrow. Cos we can afford to over there. What you laughin at?

PATRICIA

Give over.

EDDIE

What?

PATRICIA

Loopholes, is that what you call them? Bit euphemistic, ain’t it?

EDDIE

What you talkin about?

PATRICIA

Oh come off it Eddie. Who do you think you’re foolin?

EDDIE

All of a sudden you’re the expert. She’s down on our books as a secretary. That’s the biggest lie we’ve ever told! Anyone gets hold of that porky we’re finished.

PATRICIA

I don’t need to be in the office. You don’t do a very good job of hiding it.

EDDIE

Hidin what?

PATRICIA

Hidin what? Where do you start? Bribery. Blackmail. Forgin permits. Ever since I known you.

EDDIE

Obviously there ‘s an element of. You know. Can’t get by otherwise.

PATRICIA

Everyone else manages it.

DONNA

What’s she talkin about?

EDDIE

Nothin love.

PATRICIA

All I’m sayin is I’ll believe it when I see it. This goin straight business.

EDDIE

You’re blowin this completely out of. Ask Nick, he’s there every day.

They turn to Nick.

NICK

It’s not really my department.

EDDIE

I’m tryina do somethin for this family. Usher in a new. New leaf and all that. And you’re throwin it back in my face.

PATRICIA

I ain’t throwin nothin nowhere. I’m just sayin I reckon it’s in your nature.

EDDIE

For years you’ve been goin on at me. Now I’m finally.

PATRICIA

You’ll find ways to exploit the law over there just like you did over here.

EDDIE

It’s a completely different environment over there. Different business culture.

DONNA

Exactly, and he’ll make a fortune out of my dresses as well. Honestly dad you should see the mark ups on these things.

EDDIE

Alright, yeah.

DONNA

You could make a right bomb. I’ll show you the figures later.

EDDIE

Not now Donna. I’m talkin to your mother, who seems to have me down as some sort of racketeer.

PATRICIA

Well what would you call it?

EDDIE

I can’t believe I’m hearing this.

PATRICIA

I mean come on. Be honest with yourself. You’ve just had some poor lad stoved in cos he asked too many questions.

Beat.

NICK

What?

EDDIE

That was a private matter.

PATRICIA

We’re all family. No use keepin secrets.

NICK

I thought he fell.

EDDIE

He did.

PATRICIA

Ha, yeah. Fell and headbutted a wrench.

EDDIE

Shut it.

NICK

You said he fell.

PATRICIA

Oh you didn’t know? What did he spin you this time?

DONNA

What? What’s goin on?

PATRICIA

He was only a boy. Didn’t know what he was gettin into.

EDDIE

Stop pretendin you know what’s goin on.

PATRICIA

You underestimated him, that was your problem.

EDDIE

He was a troublemaker.

PATRICIA

See Nick, thing is that this lad’s dad.

EDDIE

Alright quiet now.

PATRICIA

He’s got a right to know, you’re gonna bring him into it! His dad used to own is own buildin outfit, a small one, before he died. Dropped dead of an heart attack at his daughter’s weddin. Quite sad really.

EDDIE

He doesn’t need to know this.

PATRICIA

So this lad starts doin some work for Eddie on the new estate, and all of a sudden there’s no employment contract to sign.

EDDIE

He doesn’t need to know.

PATRICIA

No minimum payment agreement, no insurance papers and all his co-workers are from fuckin Bulgaria.

EDDIE

Shut your mouth.

PATRICIA

I’m tellin him! Might as well finish now. Anyway, he looks around at what’s goin on, and he’s thinkin how has this company, with a permanent staff of 15 and an estimated revenue of such and such, managed to secure such a massive government housing contract without – get this – without even havin to put in a public bid. Every day he’s told we ain’t got this or we can’t afford that, and no-one’s unionised. It just don’t make sense. So he starts askin questions, askin to see the contract papers, starts namin names about councillors and.

EDDIE

That is enough!

PATRICIA

I knew his mother. Bless her. Mind you, she was a bit of a one an all.

DONNA

Are you a criminal dad?

EDDIE

What?

DONNA

Are you a gangster?

EDDIE

Don’t be silly love.

NICK

Eddie he’s in my garden. You’ve put him in my garden.

DONNA

You buried him in our garden!?

EDDIE

Technically it’s my garden.

NICK

Eddie, you’ve put him in a ditch in my garden. That makes me an accessory.

EDDIE

What does it matter anyway? You’ll be on the other side of the world tomorrow.

NICK

How many more are there? I mean what is this?

EDDIE

The decisions I make are my own and I don’t have to justify them to you, or you, or anyone. So yeah. It happened. And I’d do it again. And again. To protect my family.

PATRICIA

To protect your business.

EDDIE

Which supports my family. Now, this is a celebration. We’re here to be happy, yeah? As a family. It’s a new start for all of us. So cheers.

He drinks.

NICK

So you’re a killer now. You’re killers and I’m an accessory to.

EDDIE

I said fuckin cheers.

They all drink.

EDDIE

If you are an accessory. It makes sense to move forward with a bit of discretion. Wouldn’t you agree?

DONNA

I wish you’d told me you was a gangster when Shane was throwin me about everywhere.

EDDIE

I’m not a gangster darlin.

DONNA

Would’ve calmed him right down.

EDDIE

And Shane was alright. He had a temper on him. You might wanna close your ears for this son. He had a bit of a temper but his head was in the right place. He was thinkin ahead, always. And I’ll tell you what he’s a bloody good spark. Our loss that.

DONNA

He’s a fuckin arsehole. Daniella still sees him most weekends you know. Sits at his table in The Cauliflower. Shiny-faced bitch.

PATRICIA

Oh darlin, please.

Donna drinks.

EDDIE

What’s in that glass Don?

DONNA

Wine.

EDDIE

What are you doin?

DONNA

I’m havin a glass of wine.

EDDIE

No you’re not.

DONNA

Yeah, it’s just one glass.

EDDIE

I’m sayin no.

PATRICIA

It’s one glass.

EDDIE

I wouldn’t have her walk past a busy pub in her state.

DONNA

It’s fine up until nine weeks. And I’m nine weeks tomorrow, so.

She takes a sip.

EDDIE

You gonna let your wife do that? To your son?

DONNA

Let me?

NICK

Um, I.

DONNA

He ain’t in charge of me. I’m the one’s got it inside me.

EDDIE

You gonna let her do that to your little baby?

NICK

Doctor did say that a glass every now and then was.

EDDIE

Well whatever the doctor said, I’m sayin that if it was my son in there.

DONNA

I’ve read books dad. You think I’m that irresponsible?

EDDIE

I’d to whatever I could to protect him, and lettin my wife.

PATRICIA

Just leave it. Everyone knows a glass every now and then is fine.

Beat.

NICK

Maybe you should lay off the wine, eh Don?

Donna takes another sip of the wine.

NICK

Don.

She stares at Nick. Takes another sip.

EDDIE

Listen to me. You keep on like that it’ll cause you problems.

DONNA

What the hell would you know about babies?

EDDIE

That what you want? Have to look after another little.

DONNA

Oh god.

PATRICIA

What’s that supposed to mean?

EDDIE

Nothin. Just sayin.

DONNA

What’s wrong with you dad?

EDDIE

You bring a kid into the world you have a responsibility to.

PATRICIA

You are horrible sometimes, you know that?

NICK

Cerebral palsy ain’t caused by drinkin durin pregnancy.

EDDIE

I weren’t sayin nothin about that.

NICK

It’s a neuromuscular disorder.

EDDIE

I’m not blamin you son. I’m just sayin there’s an attitude.

NICK

Usually an infection, or in vitro asphyxiation.

DONNA

Nick.

NICK

No, I’m just. Because he said.

DONNA

Fuck’s sake.

NICK

Cos you gotta educate.

DONNA

Well I think we’ve all been educated enough, haven’t we?

NICK

I don’t know what that means Don.

DONNA

How many books and courses and.

EDDIE

We know the kid.

DONNA

I take him swimmin.

NICK

Daniel.

EDDIE

That’s all she’s sayin. Don’t have to go on about it. All the science. We know him. Look after him enough don’t we?

NICK

Yeah. Yeah and I’m grateful. But.

PATRICIA

He’s a lovely little boy. So curious. He’s got your eyes.

NICK

No, I really appreciate you takin care of him. I don’t wanna seem.

EDDIE

I wasn’t tryin to imply nothin. I was just makin a general point.

NICK

How was he? Was he alright?

EDDIE

He was fine, yeah.

PATRICIA

Good as gold he was.

NICK

Sometimes he can be a right handful.

DONNA

Ha!

NICK

Yeah, she’s seen the worst of it. But it means a lot, you know. It was tough for a while. Specially since Stacy. Since his mother didn’t. But now I wouldn’t want it any other way. He loves you, I can tell. Loves the lot of you.

PATRICIA

So curious. Always peerin out at you. And laughing.

NICK

Yeah he laughs a lot.

EDDIE

I wasn’t tryina blame you for. You know, I was just makin a point.

NICK

Where is he now then? Is he still at the house? Cos I might actually.

EDDIE

You got another one on the way now an all, eh? New family. New start and all that.

NICK

Well. Yeah. We’re growin. Together, as a.

EDDIE

Yeah but this is a new.

He gestures to the two of them – Donna and Nick.

EDDIE

It’s a good thing. A new. Something to celebrate. Cheers. Again.

He raises his glass. No one moves.

EDDIE

I said cheers. Let’s do it properly this time.

They each raise their glasses.

EDDIE

Cheers. To new life. New life.

They drink.

EDDIE

One glass Don. Alright?

They continue eating.

EDDIE

And don’t worry about that other stuff mate. It’s done with. History. Shame it had to happen but there’s a lot of bad people in the world. A lot of bad people. And as I said you’ll be other side of the world tomorrow. Even if they turf him up somehow. Which is impossible. There’s no way they could trace it back to you. No way. My name on the deeds. Don’t worry about it.

NICK

Who’s gonna be diggin up a jacuzzi?

EDDIE

Exactly mate. I thought we were havin French fries with this?

DONNA

They were what caused the fire. I’ve put some more on. Few more minutes.

NICK

So he was alright then, was he? Daniel. No problems or nothing? Where is he now, with Karla is he?

EDDIE

I’ll be finished by the time they come.

PATRICIA

Eat slower then.

NICK

Is he with Karla? Pat?

PATRICIA

Yeah he’s with Karla.

NICK

Cos I could go over after dinner. Pick him up. He’s supposed to be back at the centre tomorrow morning.

EDDIE

We’ll get Karla to take him over.

NICK

Pat are you alright?

EDDIE

She’s fine. Just relax mate.

NICK

It’s just if I’m leavin first thing tomorrow then I don’t know when.

EDDIE

I said you’ve gotta put that behind you. This is a celebration. Nice wine. Family. Some food.

NICK

Course. No it’s lovely.

EDDIE

Here, did I tell you the Doberman’s had pups? Seven of them. I reckon one’ll be dead in a week. Tiny little thing it is. But the rest look a strong bunch of bastards.

PATRICIA

Oh they’re lovely Nick. So cute they are.

DONNA

Can we have one? Can we take it away with us?

EDDIE

Can you have one? No darlin, you can’t have a Doberman stalkin around the place when you’re preggers.

DONNA

As a goin away present.

EDDIE

Or, come to think of it, when you’ve got a baby knockin around.

DONNA

Don’t be like that.

EDDIE

Do you know how big they are? They’re fuckin huge love.

NICK

Not as big as an Irish Wolfhound.

EDDIE

Now that’s true. But they’re usually docile. Doberman would have your face off. A grand each I reckon. For these.

DONNA

For a dog?

EDDIE

Pedigrees love.

PATRICIA

And they’re ever so cute Don.

EDDIE

No one’s buyin them cos they’re cute.

DONNA

Reckon you’ll sell them all?

EDDIE

If they don’t I’ll give them away to clients. Loyalty gesture.

DONNA

That’s a nice idea.

EDDIE

Fuckin love all that. Anythin free.

NICK

Listen, I might pop over to your gaff if that’s alright.

EDDIE

What for?

NICK

Just to check she’s alright with Daniel. He’s not givin her any grief or nothin.

PATRICIA

Why don’t we wait till we’ve finished, eh?

NICK

I think I’m done actually Pat. That was lovely darlin, cheers. Cooked just right.

EDDIE

Don’t lie to her, son.

NICK

I’d actually quite like to be with him right now.

EDDIE

Just hang on.

NICK

Yeah well it’s gettin late.

EDDIE

We’re havin a meal, son. We’re havin a celebratory dinner. Your wife’s cooked for us all.

PATRICIA

I’ll help clear.

EDDIE

Then after that you’ll have your packin to do. Get it all sorted. Passports and that.

NICK

Is there any way I could change the flights?

Beat.

PATRICIA

Come on darlin.

Patricia and Donna clear the plates, exit.

EDDIE

I’m starvin. Have to get somethin on the way home at this rate.

NICK

Eddie.

EDDIE

I appreciate the effort she’s gone to. But some sort of dummy run might have been useful.

NICK

I mean do I have to be there tomorrow? What about next week? Or end of the month? I can’t just take off. I can’t do it.

EDDIE

Do you give a shit about this company?

NICK

What? Yeah.

EDDIE

About the company that I brought you into?

NICK

Course I do.

EDDIE

Do you care about your wife, my daughter? Hah? And the little baby she’s got growin inside her?

NICK

Eddie that’s not what I’m sayin at all. I just.

EDDIE

You think it’s cheap, raisin a family? You think you could do it on your little junior accounts salary? You were bangin on about a Range Rover a minute ago.

NICK

Obviously I care about.

EDDIE

I’m gonna have no business interests in this country whatsoever come Christmas. Zero. And what then? You gonna jump on board? Join the party when all the hard graft’s done? That your style is it? Ride the coat-tails?

NICK

I don’t think you understand. He’s not very good without me. He gets upset.

EDDIE

They why d’you stick him in a home five days a week?

NICK

That’s not fair.

EDDIE

Surrounded by nurses his whole life.

NICK

That’s not. I have to. I wouldn’t have the time or the money to do it all.

EDDIE

Exactly.

NICK

And Donna. It wouldn’t be fair on her.

Patricia and Donna re-enter.

PATRICIA

You’re tellin the wrong one darlin. It’s dad you should be tellin this to.

DONNA

Dad, I wanna talk to you about this syndicate thing. Basically, a few small companies are gonna club together.

EDDIE

I know what a syndicate is.

DONNA

Right, yeah. Well I wanna join this one that’ll order dresses to be made in China, then brought over. And I can restyle them, see. Make them bespoke. And all this talk about Dubai has made me realise.

EDDIE

I thought you wanted to make the dresses yourself?

DONNA

No I’d design them. Add all the design touches and that. Someone else would make them. Manufacture them. Anyway I couldn’t make as many as they could. No chance.

EDDIE

Start off small then. Make a few frocks. Sell them. Use the money to make more frocks.

DONNA

Well it’s better to have more innit? Case it all takes off. Got to have somethin to sell.

EDDIE

Not sure about the logic there.

DONNA

So what do you think? You think it’s somethin you might be interested in? Cos I’m lookin for investors at the minute, so.

EDDIE

Tell you what, draw me up a business plan with a profit loss analysis and a year end revenue breakdown and I’ll send it to my finance team.

DONNA

Fine I will do. Wanna be difficult about it that’s fine.

EDDIE

Maybe you could start up a French restaurant in the meantime.

DONNA

Please don’t take the piss when I’m tryina be serious.

EDDIE

What do you want from me darlin? I just gave you a fuckin house didn’t I? Here, maybe Nick can go in with you.

NICK

Hah? What’s that?

EDDIE

Fancy makin a business partner out of your wife? Makin her dreams a reality?

NICK

With the fashion line thing?

DONNA

Yeah. Tell him how much money I could make.

EDDIE

I just don’t quite see it Don. I can’t see it workin.

DONNA

You never do nothin for me.

NICK

Steady Don.

EDDIE

You don’t know what I’ve done for you love.

DONNA

It’s an investment.

EDDIE

I’ve invested enough.

DONNA

You ain’t got no faith in me. None of you.

EDDIE

We’ll talk about it another time, alright?

DONNA

You always say that.

EDDIE

Well I’m sayin it again. Can’t do nothing for the next six months anyway. And you’ll be out for a couple of years after that.

DONNA

Not necessarily.

EDDIE

Yes necessarily.

DONNA

I could do the paperwork.

EDDIE

Do it then. Show me and we’ll talk.

DONNA

I need to know though dad. Seriously, what do you reckon? Is it an investment opportunity?

EDDIE

You wanna move the whole racket to china?

DONNA

I just told you.

EDDIE

See what you’re doin there darlin, and I know you don’t know it, but what you’re personally doin is fuelling the downfall of Western civilisation. And what you’re also doin, personally, is perpetuatin human rights misery on a global scale.

PATRICIA

Eddie!

EDDIE

No let me explain. China is fuckin minted, right? It’s minted because it’s massive. And it’s minted because the government controls who’s rich and who’s poor. And by keepin the poor poor, it means they’ve got a multi-million strong workforce who’ll graft for dust, which in turn sends billions in foreign investment into the place, tryin to take advantage of the cheap labour. Now, that makes China, on a global scale, our manufacturin warehouse. It also gives them the capital and the infrastructure to build their own consumer goods and flog them back to us at extremely high mark ups. That makes them our high street retailer. And because they keep such a tight control over their finances, that means they’ve got cash to burn. So when our flimsy financial structures get spunked up the wall, we have to turn to them for loans. That makes China our bank as well. And when things go really tits up, it’s China who has the funds to bail out an entire fuckin continent. That turns them into our welfare state. For that kind of money, they get to make serious political demands and compromises from the free and liberal Western world. They can dictate export sanctions, diplomatic relations, media controls. That, darlin, makes them our government. The government of the whole fuckin world. That means that one single country will be our warehouse, our retail outlet, our bank, our benefits office, and our government. And they ain’t a nice government. They ain’t some kind of go off, do what you like, set up your little website business, have some free healthcare kind of government. They’ll crush you if they don’t like you. So we’ll all have to be nice little obedient citizens and watch as their cultural influence seeps into all the little cracks of everythin we’ve ever known, along with all that money. Universities, hospitals, entertainment, even fashion, love. Paid for, dictated, controlled by them. Meanwhile, they’ll be lockin up dissidents and slicin off nipples or sewin lips shut all over the place, and we’ll be so grateful that we ain’t one of them that none of us will say a word to anyone. Your next door neighbour goes missin, your cousin, your mum and dad, never seen again. And you won’t whisper a word of it to anyone for fear of what might happen. This is the situation you’ll find yourself in when one entity controls every aspect of your life – financial, social, family life, home life – when one thing, one person, ultimately, has a stranglehold on every aspect of your existence, well, you’d better do what they say, hadn’t you?

Pause.

PATRICIA

You invest however you want, love.

DONNA

I know what you’re doin. You’re tryina scare me.

EDDIE

Enlighten you darlin. There’s a subtle difference. Think about what you’re really buyin with all that cheap labour, yeah? It don’t stop there sweetheart. After they’ve bought out our universities they can teach us whatever history they want. And when they get round to buyin all that bargain basement agricultural land from skint, knackered farmers, they can control food prices, or build on it all and dictate housing prices. And that affects me darlin. My business. And property prices are the direct arbiter of national wealth, so they can directly control the personal wealth rates and the national GDP. All of a sudden, Great Britain is the richest and happiest it’s ever been now China’s taken over. How’s that for a PR coup? Meanwhile at ground level we ain’t got two pennies to rub together.

DONNA

I’ll be in Dubai anyway. Right?

EDDIE

Do you know how they done it? Do you know why their gonna end up owning us? Cos they learnt to control themselves before they tried to control anyone else. They looked inwards. Dealt with the problems there. Got everyone in check. Before they started lookin outwards. Chinese Government. Masters of their own domain. Unquestioned masters. A unit. A one point six billion strong unit. Now they can look out across the rest of the world and pick their conquests.

Beat.

DONNA

Alright. Okay. I thought it was something we could do together, but.

EDDIE

Yeah well.

DONNA

I just wanna connect with you dad.

EDDIE

No you don’t. You wanna sell dresses.

Beat.

PATRICIA

Right Donna, I think it’s.

She nods to the kitchen.

DONNA

What, you wanna do that now? After that?

PATRICIA

Let’s just get it over with.

DONNA

After dad’s just gone and brought the whole mood down?

PATRICIA

Donna!

Beat.

DONNA

I’m not finished with this.

PATRICIA

Come on sweetheart.

Donna and Patricia exit.

EDDIE

Can’t please no-one tonight. Honestly you try and do some good in the world.

The lights go out.

Donna enters holding a birthday cake full of lit candles. Patricia follows behind her.

They sing ‘Happy Birthday’ as Donna sets the cake down.

NICK

Oh. Cheers.

DONNA

Blow it out then. Make a wish.

PATRICIA

Your eyes are all glistenin in this light. Makes them sparkle. Hasn’t he got sparkly eyes Don?

DONNA

Well hurry up.

Nick holds the plane tickets over one of the candles. They burn to ashes.

EDDIE

What the fuck is that?

PATRICIA

Something’s on fire. Put it out.

Patricia exits quickly, turns on the lights and returns.

They see the burnt plane tickets.

DONNA

What’s that? It’s not the tickets is it?

Donna leans over and pats out the tickets. She picks up the charred remains, drops them back onto the table.

NICK

I’m sorry Eddie.

EDDIE

Don’t worry about it.

.

NICK

I can’t go.

EDDIE

I’ll call up get some more. Go online. Get you on the same flight probably.

NICK

No.

EDDIE

Come out your wages this time.

NICK

I’ve got one week’s holiday due.

EDDIE

Can have two weeks.

NICK

I wanna take it right now. Startin right now.

EDDIE

You can’t.

NICK

You can’t deny me that. It’s law.

PATRICIA

Oh sweetheart. Think about who you’re talkin to here.

EDDIE

You have to put in a request at work. And you ain’t at work. Next time you’re at work will be on that plane. That’s when you next clock in.

DONNA

Why’d you do that? You didn’t even consult me. Don’t I get a say in anythin?

NICK

Donna, not now alright.

EDDIE

She’s right. Why stop there? Why not burn the table cloth? The furniture? Why not burn the whole fuckin house down? Cos that’s what you’re doin. You understand? I’m tryina make you here son. I’m tryina do you a favour.

NICK

That’s what you’re callin it?

EDDIE

I fuckin own you right now. Look around. I own you.

NICK

Ain’t that exactly where you want me?

EDDIE

I’m doin it for her.

NICK

So why you sendin us out there? You’ve built her a wendy house, why you tryin to get rid of us?

EDDIE

Don’t be an idiot.

NICK

How are you playin us? What’s your angle, eh?

EDDIE

I’m a father and a boss. That’s my angle.

PATRICIA

Pair of yous, calm down.

NICK

What’s goin on out there? What you need a puppet like me for? Money launderin is it? Tax fraud?

EDDIE

You think very carefully about what you’re accusin me of.

DONNA

Stop it! Both of you!

NICK

It all smells a bit funny to me if I’m honest. Cos there’s certain things I can’t help but notice. Even if I do try and turn a blind eye.

EDDIE

I’m tellin you be very careful now.

NICK

The CIC are on your back for god knows what. All them meetings with foreign men. Who are they? You never introduce me. Some poor lad ends up under my jacuzzi. Even your own family Eddie. When you gonna tell her, eh? About the dog?

Eddie lunges for Nick

EDDIE

Shut your fuckin.

DONNA

STOP IT! JUST PLEASE STOP IT!

Donna is crying.

DONNA

I’m just tryina make a nice evenin.

PATRICIA

You’ve made a pregnant woman cry. I hope your proud of yourselves.

They relent.

DONNA

Is anyone gonna have any of this cake? Or did I buy it for nothin?

PATRICIA

I’ll have some love.

DONNA

Good. Dad?

Eddie shrugs.

DONNA

We never get together as a family. Last time was the weddin and we had to put mum to bed early. Just once I wanted us all to sit down. We’ve got so much to be happy for and we can’t even get on like normal civilised human beings.

EDDIE

Sorry.

NICK

Yeah, sorry Don.

Donna starts cutting and serving the cake.

PATRICIA

Why don’t I put the kettle on? We’ll have a nice coffee or somethin.

DONNA

I bought some in special. I don’t drink it but.

PATRICIA

She’s bought some special.

DONNA

I know you all do, so.

EDDIE

Alright. Let’s put that thing in the ditch and we’ll stick the kettle on.

He nods to the suitcase.

DONNA

What is it?

EDDIE

Nothin don’t worry about it.

NICK

I’ll get it.

DONNA

Dinner’s not over yet. I could do some cheeses an all.

EDDIE

Think we’re alright for cheeses love.

Nick takes a deep breath and drags the suitcase off into the garden.

Pause.

PATRICIA

What was he talkin about my dog?

EDDIE

Forget it. He’s confused.

Beat.

PATRICIA

You gonna tell him?

EDDIE

Course I’m not gonna fuckin tell him.

DONNA

Tell him what?

Pause.

DONNA

Oh, them chips’ll be done by now.

Donna exits.

EDDIE

Don’t look at me like that.

Nick re-enters.

EDDIE

That’ll be filled in. First thing tomorrow. I’ll send someone round.

Donna re-enters with a bowl of chips and puts them on the table.

DONNA

Well happy birthday.

NICK

Cheers.

DONNA

Bet you thought we’d forgotten.

NICK

I was beginnin to wonder.

Nick almost cracks. Holds it together.

DONNA

It’s your birthday Nick. I love you.

NICK

I love you too.

DONNA

I wanted it to be special.

PATRICIA

Here, have a seat. Have a sit down.

He sits down. Patricia sits next to him and strokes his face.

PATRICIA

It’s alright darlin. It’ll be alright.

She moves onto his lap.

PATRICIA

There you go.

She kisses his forehead. Then his cheek.

PATRICIA

Here. Put your head here.

She pulls his head into her, stroking his hair.

PATRICIA

There you go love.

DONNA

Er, mum.

PATRICIA

Shush darlin. Give us a moment.

EDDIE

Pat take your flabby arse off his knee. Now.

PATRICIA

He needs his mother.

EDDIE

Call her up and get her round then.

PATRICIA

You’re a mean bastard you know that? Can’t you think for a minute about what he’s goin through?

DONNA

He’s fine mum. Get off him.

PATRICIA

He’s not fine. Are you love?

She kisses him again.

DONNA

Look at him, he’s fine.

PATRICIA

He needs a mother.

EDDIE

Mothers don’t sit on their children’s lap. Get. The fuck. Off him.

She stands up, unsteady on her feet.

PATRICIA

Do you know what it’s like to feel warmth in your heart? Can you remember what it feels like to care about someone?

EDDIE

Oh shut up.

PATRICIA

Can you remember what it feels like to have empathy for another human being?

DONNA

Mum! What the fuck’s wrong with you?

EDDIE

And what’s carin? Me workin sixteen hours a day so you can get your nails done twice a week? Sit around doin Yoga DVDs. I take you on holiday, you moan you wanna go somewhere else.

PATRICIA

Sendin him off to another country. Big promotion. You think that’s gonna make it all better?

EDDIE

Yeah it is.

PATRICIA

My only daughter. My first grandchild. And you’re. All because. You care so much about this family, why don’t you tell him what really happened. Eh?

NICK

What was that Pat?

PATRICIA

Why don’t you be honest for a change?

DONNA

What you on about mum?

EDDIE

Pat. No. Look at me. Look at my face.

PATRICIA

Well it’s gonna come out sooner or later. Have you thought this through at all?

EDDIE

Patricia. Look at me.

NICK

What is? What’ll come out?

EDDIE

You’re my wife. Don’t do this.

PATRICIA

I’m your wife am I? I am when it suits you. Always goin on about respect. Why don’t you show some to your son-in-law?

EDDIE

I don’t have to.

PATRICIA

Why not?

EDDIE

Because he ain’t earnt it.

NICK

What do you mean the truth Pat?

EDDIE

Ignore her.

PATRICIA

Just tell him. Tell him.

EDDIE

She’s pissed.

NICK

What’s she on about?

EDDIE

You’re pissed again, ain’t ya?

PATRICIA

You’re a coward.

He grabs her by the throat.

DONNA

Dad! Get off her!

She runs over to free Patricia. Eddie bats her away.

DONNA

What are you doing? Daddy!

Donna launches herself at Eddie. He releases his grip.

Patricia stumbles backwards. Sits down.

PATRICIA

You happy now? Playin the big man.

She drinks some wine.

PATRICIA

You’re a coward Eddie Gates.

NICK

Is someone gonna tell me what she’s on about?

PATRICIA

A coward!

NICK

Is someone gonna say somethin?

PATRICIA

If he won’t I will. I’ll tell you what happened, because a father’s got a right to know.

Eddie slaps her across the face.

He turns to Nick.

EDDIE

Listen. Nick. Now, before I say this.

NICK

What’s goin on Eddie? What’s she on about?

EDDIE

I hope you understand why I done what I done, alright?

NICK

A father? A father’s got a right.

EDDIE

It was for your own good. You’re part of the family now. It’s important to remember that.

NICK

Why? What? What’s that gotta do.

EDDIE

I’m tellin you now.

Eddie swallows.

EDDIE

Daniel.

NICK

Daniel? What. What about him? I wanna see him. I’m gonna go and see him.

EDDIE

Just. He was outside. Alright.

NICK

When? What is this?

EDDIE

He was playin outside. You know, sun was out. He wanted some fresh air.

NICK

No no no. What you sayin what you sayin.

EDDIE

This mornin. One of the dogs.

NICK

No. No. Eddie no mate. No.

EDDIE

He was bein a bit heavy handed and one of the dogs. Had a go at him.

DONNA

Oh no.

NICK

No.

EDDIE

I’m sorry.

NICK

Oh no. Is he. Is he. Is he. What. What.

EDDIE

It was a big. You know.

NICK

Is he. I mean fuck. What.

EDDIE

Dug it’s teeth in and that. Got at his neck a bit.

NICK

His. No, this. His neck? His fuckin.

EDDIE

I mean this thing really.

NICK

Why didn’t you fuckin tell me! When. I mean. Where is he? Where is he?

EDDIE

He didn’t survive it Nick. Must’ve caught his jugular or something.

DONNA

Oh my god.

Nick cannot speak.

EDDIE

I’m sorry mate really I.

NICK.

No. No.

EDDIE

Honestly I.

NICK

Nanananana.

EDDIE

I’m sorry. He’s. He’s gone.

Nick crumples to the floor.

NICK

No. Eddie no please. Please this ain’t. Just say it ain’t.

EDDIE shrugs. Shakes his head.

NICK

Ahgah no. ahfuck no. No. Please.

EDDIE

Nick. Nick. Nick. Mate.

DONNA

Oh my god. Oh my god.

NICK

Ahfffaaaaaaaahh. Fuck naaah. Naaaah. Ffffaaahahahaha.

EDDIE

Now listen. Listen.

Nick screams.

DONNA

Dad why didn’t you say nothin? How can you just sit there and do nothin?

Eddie looks to Patricia.

Nick screams again.

EDDIE

Are you happy now? Seen what it’s done to him?

PATRICIA

Are you happy?

EDDIE

It was an accident! I didn’t know. It was sick. It was a sick dog.

DONNA

Why didn’t you. I can’t believe it. I cannot believe it.

EDDIE

I’ve got a business to think about. Can’t have.

DONNA

Oh babes. Oh Nick. I’m so sorry.

NICK

My boy. Oh god my boy.

DONNA

Darlin.

EDDIE

Just. Everyone take a deep breath.

NICK

Where is he? Where is he?

EDDIE

You’ve got a new family now, ain’t you?

NICK

Where is he where is he where is he. I need. I need. Oh gaaah. Gaaaahhd. No.

EDDIE

Start again. It’s time to start again. A new life. New job, new country.

Nick tries to scramble through to the kitchen. Eddie holds him back, pulling him to an upright position.

NICK

Get off. Get off me.

EDDIE

You’re part of the family now son. My daughter’s gonna have a kiddie and you better be there to. You hear me? Look alive, mate. Think about the future. It’s sad, yeah. It’s fuckin.

Nick sinks back down to the floor.

He puts his face into his hands, screams again.

EDDIE

Look just. It’s sad yeah. It’s fuckin tragic but just. Let’s just. I couldn’t. Just tell you like that. You understand what I done don’t you? Why I did it like that. We need you switched on. However you found out about it, wouldn’t change what happened. Would it?

He looks at his wife and daughter.

EDDIE

I’ve got a fuckin business to run! You think I can just. See it from my point of view. All this goin on. Got a million and one things to. And what are you gonna do? Eh? If it all.

Pause.

EDDIE

Dog’s dead. Got rid of it. So there’s no danger. Took it to the vet got it sorted.

Beat.

Nick lifts his head up. A realisation. He stands and makes a run to the garden.

Eddie grabs him. Holds him back.

EDDIE

No. No. No.

Nick wrestles free with a primal, almost feral determination. He heads into the garden.

PATRICIA

Oh you haven’t.

EDDIE

Calm down.

PATRICIA

Eddie, tell me you didn’t.

EDDIE

Just.

PATRICIA

You fuckin.

Eddie rubs his face. Points to Patricia.

EDDIE

You. You just fuckin. Wait.

He goes to exit. Turns.

EDDIE

Keep him here.

PATRICIA

Psycho. You absolute fuckin.

DONNA

Where you goin dad? Dad where you goin?

He exits.

DONNA

Mum? What’s goin on mum? I’m scared.

Donna starts to cry.

Nick re-enters, muddied, carrying the suitcase. He lays it on the floor and kneels over it.

PATRICIA

Darlin you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to.

Nick places his hands on the suitcase.

Patricia kneels with him and holds his head again, kissing him with more passion than before.

PATRICIA

Look at me sweetheart. Look at me. He’s a complete bastard, I know. But think about what you’re doin here. It’s dangerous. He’s a dangerous man.

Eddie re-enters with a rolled up plastic sheet and a sports bag. He unrolls the sheet on the ground behind Nick. Then he opens the bag and produces a nail gun.

DONNA

What’s he doin? Dad what you doin?

He loads the nail gun and aims it at Nick’s head.

DONNA

Oh fuck. Dad.

EDDIE

Quiet now love.

DONNA

That’s my husband. Dad.

EDDIE

This ain’t your concern.

Eddie tightens his grip on the nail gun.

EDDIE

Move Pat.

Patricia continues to kiss Nick.

EDDIE

Pat sweetheart. Move yourself.

She looks up at Eddie.

PATRICIA

No Eddie. No.

EDDIE

Out the way now darlin.

PATRICIA

No I won’t Eddie. I won’t. I won’t let you.

EDDIE

Move.

PATRICIA

I won’t let you do it to him.

EDDIE

Do you want me to ask again?

Patricia holds his gaze for a second, then moves out of the way.

DONNA

I’ll never forgive you dad.

EDDIE

Yes you will.

Nick puts his hand on the suitcase zip. Eddie steadies himself with the nail gun.

Nick slowly acknowledges Eddie standing over him. He looks from the nail gun to the suitcase.

NICK

What’s in here?

EDDIE

You don’t have to son. We can make it okay.

DONNA

Listen to him darlin. Please.

Nick looks again from Eddie to the suitcase.

EDDIE

New family. New start.

DONNA

I’m havin a baby Nick.

EDDIE

Think about it. Think about your options.

DONNA

Think about me. I love you.

EDDIE

You don’t have to open it, you don’t want.

Long pause. Eddie steadies himself. Nick stares at the suitcase, hand on the zip.

EDDIE

Won’t change nothin. Won’t change nothin lookin in there.

Nick looks from the suitcase to the nail gun pointed at his face. Eddie is himself holding back tears.

NICK

Wuh ma.

Pause.

EDDIE

What’s that?

NICK

Well maybe.

Pause.

NICK

Maybe.

Beat.

NICK

Maybe I don’t have to look in.

Pause.

NICK

Maybe I don’t.

EDDIE

No you don’t.

NICK

Have to.

EDDIE

That’s right.

NICK

Could. Could. Could. Just.

EDDIE

Put it back.

NICK

In the.

EDDIE

In the garden.

NICK

Where the. Jacuzzi.

EDDIE

Got diggers comin tomorrow ain’t ya?

NICK

Got a digger comin.

EDDIE

Why don’t you put it back, eh?

Beat.

EDDIE

New job tomorrow. Fancy that? Your own department.

NICK

Dubai.

EDDIE

Dubai, yeah. Big car for your family.

NICK

Was it an accident?

EDDIE

Complete accident mate. Couldn’t have seen it common.

NICK

Yeah. Maybe we could have a little.

EDDIE

Few candles.

NICK

Bit of music.

EDDIE

Absolutely.

Nick slowly stands up and drags the suitcase off stage.

Eddie puts the nail gun away and rolls up the plastic sheet in silence. Patricia and Donna watch him.

He stares into the night for a moment, runs his hand through his hair.

EDDIE

WELL PUT THE FUCKIN KETTLE ON THEN!

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