Characters

DREW – Sixteen years old. Somewhere between hipster and fashionable.
MICK – Late forties. Wannabe/faded crook. Cheap leather jacket and jeans.

Setting

DREW and MICK in front of a tombstone.
MICK is holding a sports bag. He drops it.

MICK : Now! There it is. Your old man’s grave. Infamous, Darren, Ben-e-dict Dawkins.

DREW : What am I doing here, Mick?

MICK : I’m about to deliver to you, something your old man never got the chance to do.

DREW : (Pause.) I’m going.

DREW starts to leave.

MICK : Here, wait Drew. Wait.

DREW : (leaving) No way. No-one said anything about this. Mum said you were taking me to get some football boots. I only came out here cause there was a Pokemon stop.

MICK : This is a special outing. Your Mum knew exactly where we were going.

DREW : No she never. She hated him and has never brought us here once.

MICK : This is my duty, Drew.

DREW : It’s my birthday, Mick, I didn’t expect to be longing it round some south London graveyard where the only thing to catch is fucking Pigemons.

MICK : You should know well enough about this place.

DREW : Well, I don’t. I want to get back for my party.

MICK : But I’ve got the letter.

DREW stops.

DREW : What letter?

MICK : The letter your old man gave me.

DREW : He never wrote to us once.

MICK : Well, this is his list.

DREW : What list?

MICK : The list from your father’s mouth. This the last letter he gave me before he died in that prison.

DREW : We’ve hardly seen you. You turn up on my birthday and bring me out here.

MICK : (Hard) I took an oath from your old man; a promise . . . that I would deliver this message to you when you turn a man, here by his grave on your sixteenth birthday.

DREW : He’s been dead over ten years.

MICK : Look, kid. Your old man died in that prison. And he could have taken a lot of us old crooks down with him.

DREW : He got stitched up.

MICK : He had fifteen year of bird, mate.

DREW : It was a mock up, Mick — hardly Goodfellas.

MICK : (Shock) All that Tom (Jewellery) out of Hatton Garden? That was stunning workmanship that was. And your old boy kept shtum, never ratted on no one. Not no one.

DREW : Well, he should have.

MICK : Only crook who remained silent. The ‘Chaplin’ of the nick they called ‘im. And I won’t wear the guilt of his final wishes, Drew.

DREW : This is your guilt, Mick.

MICK : I have orders, son. You think I wanna be ‘ere? I’ve got pressing matters, boy. But I am indebted to that great man and it is my duty to deliver this message to you, so stop being a little shit and let’s get it over with and leave it on the hand.

MICK kisses his palm and puts out his hand. Drew thinks . . .

DREW : It’s getting dark.

MICK starts to open the letter.

MICK : Now as you know . . . your old man and his family came from an ancient London line. And that blood runs down to / you.

DREW : I / wanted to see my mates tonight.

MICK : This an important day for you, my boy.

DREW : That’s why I’d like to get back to Herne Bay and get to my actual party.

MICK : You will son, you will, but not till we do what we gotta do here.

DREW : Let me see it then. (Trying to grab the letter.)

MICK : No! I have to do this, kid. This sets me free. (Beat.) Now, you know your old man had a way with words.

DREW : He didn’t write me a letter once.

MICK : That’s why I’ve got this. (The letter)

DREW : Not once, Mickey.

MICK : You were only five when he died . . . and he had the business of prison . . . and business inside is different. But you know how he was with words. And . . .

DREW : He deserted his family that’s what’s he did.

MICK : The list, kid! The list! . . . now . . . first . . . (Beat.) take your shoes off.

DREW : Fuck off am I taking my shoes off.

MICK : Take them off, mate.

DREW : It’s freezing.

MICK : It says so on the list.

DREW : I’m walking to the station.

MICK : Settle just, settle. Leave the shoes. (Beat.)You’ll have them off by the end though.

DREW : I won’t.

MICK : Oh you will, my boy. You will.

DREW : You’ve got five minutes, Mick, five minutes, then you’re driving me straight back home.

MICK : All right, all right. Now, repeat your name.

Drew : Drew Johnson.

MICK : You’re proper name.

DREW : That is my proper name. Mum made us change it when she married Ron.

MICK : Not that posh nob’s name. Your birth name boy. The original. Your father’s name for fuck sake.

DREW : (Uninterested) Andrew. Bartholomew. Dawkins.

MICK : (In awe) What a name! What a name! Butchers and clowns, my boy. Butchers and clowns.

DREW : You what?

MICK : Dawkins’ boys go back to the great Bartholomew fair and Smithfield market.

DREW : I got teased because of that name.

MICK : No chance, mate. Butchers and clowns bleed great gangsters.

DREW : Yea, right. Make-up and aprons more like.

MICK : You don’t get it do ya?

DREW : Four minutes Mick. That’s all you’ve got.

MICK : Right, first off then, what your old man say’s here, is that . . . he would’ve always wanted to share a beer with you now that you’re of legal tender.

DREW : It’s eighteen to drink, Mick.

MICK : What?

DREW : You have to be eighteen to drink.

MICK : Hardly a stickler for the law now was he, kid. But listen, there are some
laws of nature between a father and son that never change, mate.

DREW : I’ve seen your Billy in Littlehampton the other day.

MICK : (Beat. Softer.) When?

DREW : With his Mum.

Pause.

MICK : Did he . . . did he look all right?

DREW : He looked sad.

Pause.

MICK : (Pressing on.) Look now . . . listen . . . there are some laws that don’t change, mate. God and Jesus. Kings and princes. All that ‘who begat’ prophet shit. It’s in the blood, it’s in the writing. This ink. And, them Greeks, them Greeks had lineage and / what not.

DREW : I / didn’t realise this was a history lesson, Mick.

MICK : (Snapping) Shut it! You’re his only son. The first boy. The next one. (Beat.) Now, have you had a drink before?

DREW : It’s 2018 not 1918.

MICK : Right, here you go then.

MICK gets beer out of the sports bag and passes DREW a can.

DREW : (Disgusted) Fosters?

MICK : It’s what he drank.

DREW : It’s shit.

MICK : They’re all right.

DREW : They taste like piss.

MICK : Just drink it. (opens can for him)

DREW : (Unbelievable) I can’t believe he drank bloody Fosters. (Goes to drink) Urghh.

MICK : Hold on, hold on. Now, pour some out for your old fella first, mate.

DREW shaking his head leads off MICK reluctantly pouring beer on the ground.

MICK : Right, now shotgun it mate. Down the hatch. Just like us old crooks do.

They eye each other for an awkward moment.

DREW starts downing the can of Fosters.

MICK is struggling, tries to waste beer by pouring a bit more out.

DREW finishes. Crunches can and slings it behind him. Burps.

MICK is really struggling to finish his. Gives up. Tries again.

MICK : (Looking at beer) It goes down easier when you’re young.

DREW : It tasted shit.

MICK : Now a smoke. (Getting out cigarettes)

DREW : I don’t smoke, Mick.

MICK : You gotta smoke, mate.

DREW : I don’t want to smoke.

MICK : Just ‘ave a Rothman.

DREW : I’m not smoking a Rothman.

MICK : He smoked Rothmans.

DREW : I hate Rothmans.

MICK : Smoke a fuckin’ Rothman.

DREW : Rothman’s are rank.

MICK : Just have a couple tokes, IT’S ON THE FUCKIN‘ LIST ALL RIGHT.

Silence. MICK gives him a cigarette. DREW smokes, not enjoying it at all.

MICK : You all right with that?

DREW : It’s not the first time I smoked, Mick. I just don’t like it.

MICK pulls out his e-fag.

DREW : You are joking.

MICK : Doctor’s orders mate.

DREW : Sucking on Robocop’s dick more like.

MICK : Oi! ‘Ere wait. Shit I almost forgot his song.

DREW : (Looking at watch.) Minute and a half, Mick.

MICK gets out an small boom box. ‘Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys,’ begins to play softly. Begins to sound like it’s underwater.

MICK : Now, man gets to an age when country music is the only thing that will get to his ’art. This was his favourite. (Singing along.) ‘Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.’

DREW : It sounds weird.

MICK : Bloomin’ batteries. Well you get the idea. Don’t put it out . . . now (looking at list) . . . . next we got here . . . we got ‘ere is birds mate.

DREW : Right?

MICK : So ‘ave you yet?

DREW : What Mick?

MICK : Have you . . . (teasing) broken the cage?

DREW shrugs his shoulders.

MICK : Have you . . . you know . . . flapped the feathers?

DREW : What?

MICK : (Annoyed) Have ya popped a fuckin cherry, son?

DREW : No, I’m gay.

MICK starts coughing on his e-fag.

MICK : You what?

DREW : I’m gay.

MICK : (To the heavens.) Fuckin’ ell, I’m sorry, Darren. I didn’t know. I promise.

DREW : I’m joking, Micky.

Pause.

MICK : Fuckin’ ell (Relieved.) Thank Christ for that. Had us worried for a minute.

DREW : Whatever, Mick.

MICK : Well, he says here. (Stops the music. Reading.) ‘Always love your Mum and Sister,’ . . . and . . . ‘If you do fall in love . . . then fall with no ground beneath you, and fall for ever upwards.’

Pause.

DREW : And what does that mean exactly?

MICK : Well, I don’t know, son, you know how he had a way with words.

DREW : (Fed up) No, I don’t Mick, as I told you, he never wrote to us once.

MICK : Well, he had a way with fuckin’ words, all right.

DREW : He should have used some on his family then.

MICK : Now, punch me.

DREW : That’s it.

MICK : It’s on the list.

DREW : Time’s up.

MICK : Punch a crook for free. Never get that again.

DREW : (Leaving.) I gave you five minutes.

MICK : Don’t you get it, son?

DREW : No, I don’t.

MICK : I could walk down the Old Kent now and I’d have swarms of villains come up to me. All ‘cause of that name. All wanna shake my hand. Because of your old man and that namesake you carry.

DREW : No, you wouldn’t, Mick. There’s no-one left around there now.

MICK : There’s old skoolers in every pub down to Deptford.

DREW : You live in Margate, Mick.

MICK : Right . . . well, a lot of old timers gone out that way, but when I go back, they all know your old fella’s name. You know what that is?

DREW : Bollocks.

MICK : It’s respect. They’re educated in honour. Just like fat Falstaff said.

DREW : Who?

MICK : (Irritated) Listen, I owe your old man a debt and I won’t let you fuck it up.

That man was like a father to me. A fuckin’ father.

DREW : (Beat.) What do you want from me, Mickey?

Pause.

MICK : (Softer) I just don’t want you to feel like you’ve never had nothin’ before. ‘Cause I know what that feeling done to me.

DREW : He was a part time crook who took the rap on a bodged heist. No hero, no respect, no honour. Just dumb.

MICK : Listen to this.‘In the vaults of vanity we are merely the prison officer looking for the keys.’ (Serious) Now, that can’t be dumb, kid?

DREW : I’m going.

DREW begins leaving for real now.

MICK : (Following) ‘Fate is the mask of the gods.’

DREW : I’m not listening.

MICK : (hurrying) ‘Destiny is blind and man’s encounter with it will rob him of his eyes.’

DREW : See ya later.

MICK : (Desperate) How you gonna get back?

DREW : I’d rather walk back to Herne Bay than have to listen to this crap.

MICK : What about your present?

MICK pulls out a small wooden box from the sports bag.

DREW : What present?

MICK : Your birthday present. It’s what I’m meant to give you from him.

MICK places it on the grave.

DREW : (Touched.) He actually gave you that?

MICK : I’ve held that for ten years to this day. Trusted in my capable hands.

DREW : What’s in there, Mick?

MICK : Just open it, kid.

DREW walks over. Bends down. Trying to hide his excitement. Slowly opens the box. Looks in. Shuts it quickly.

DREW : I’m not doing it.

MICK : Take them out.

DREW : I won’t do it, Mick.

MICK : Take them out at least.

DREW : It’s my birthday, for fuck sake.

MICK : Just take them out.

DREW opens the box and reveals a pair of knackered old black leather shoes.

MICK : Now, it says here to remind you . . . that . . . Fred The Shoe made these for your great granddad as the first payment to your family in Farringdon in 1892.

DREW : (To himself) Please get this over with.

MICK : Your great granddad passed them to your granddad, who passed them onto your old man, and now, today, Andrew Bartholomew Dawkins, I, Mickey Flanders, on behalf of the great Darren Benedict Dawkins, pass them down to you.

DREW : I don’t want them.

MICK : (Reading/singing a limerick off the list.) ‘The Cobbler paid the Caner,
Us Dawkins happy few.
They lashed our feet with leather,
And danced on London through.’

A moment.

DREW : (Final. At the end of his tether.) If I put these on, Mick. Do you promise to drive me straight back to Herne Bay so I can get to my party?

MICK : It’s the last thing to do, mate. Then we leave on a handshake.

MICK kisses his palm again.

DREW : (Forceful.) I mean it?

MICK : On the hand.

DREW takes his shoes off and begins putting on the old leather shoes.

MICK : Look at that. Just, look at that. How’s that feel, son?

DREW : Bit big.

MICK : They look perfect.

DREW : I feel like a . . . sort’a strange . . . Cinderella.

MICK : Don’t jest this, boy.

DREW : There! I’ve done it. Can we just go now?

Pause.

MICK : Dance.

DREW : Fuck off.

MICK : It’s the end of the ditty he wrote.

DREW : Piss off.

MICK : (Singing.) ‘And danced on London through.’ You gotta dance, mate.

DREW : You said you’d take me home?

MICK : Ain’t no-one else here.

DREW : I’m not dancing for a plastic gangster in a cemetery at dusk on my birthday.

MICK : Why not?

DREW : Because it’s fucking weird, Mick.

DREW taking off the shoes.

MICK : We’re all tied to our roots, mate. Those Dawkins’ chains around you.

DREW : Like Jacob fucking Marley.

DREW throws one shoe at the tombstone.

MICK : You know what your problem is?

DREW : It’s my birthday and I’m still here with you.

MICK : You’ve had it too easy.

DREW : Fuck you, Mick.

DREW throws other shoe at Mick.

MICK : What you scared of?

DREW : Go back to your Margate Dreamland.

DREW is almost gone.

MICK : (Honest.) He loved you, Drew.

DREW comes for him.

DREW : (Raging.) Don’t you dare, don’t you fuckin’ dare, Mickey.

MICK : Crooks are hard men to love.

DREW : Cowards. Cowards are hard men to love.

MICK : Just complete the debt I owe your father. For me, Drew.

DREW : What do I owe you? It’s you lot who kept him in there.

MICK : I kept him nowhere. This is the last thing he wanted before he passed.

DREW : Dad didn’t pass. He killed himself. He got in a belt, he slung it up, and he hung himself in a cell like a coward. A little coward.

MICK : Refusing to see him broke his heart.

DREW : Fuck off. He chickened out. (Hurt.) He forgot me . . . he fucking forgot me. And I don’t need to remember him today.

MICK : He had the cancer, Drew. He weren’t gonna live to get out of there.

DREW : If you lot hadn’t grassed on him he’d have got out.

Pause.

MICK : I never.

DREW : Wouldn’t he?

MICK : I never gave his name . . . I . . .

Pause.

DREW : (harder.) Well, wouldn’t he, Micky?

MICK : I never meant to take him from you, Drew.

DREW : You’re a fuckin’ fake.

MICK : He was like a Dad to me.

DREW : Well, he was my Dad. And I never even fuckin’ knew him. Never knew him because of you.

A moment.

MICK : D’ya wanna know what I did on my birthday, kid? Hiding my bruises behind the Old Kent and in the glue. Well, your old man noticed me. Took me under his wing. Sorted it. My waste of an old man never touched us again after that day.

DREW : I don’t want to be here.

MICK : I would have done anything for that man to be my father. Anything to wear his name. So don’t just throw it away like this.

DREW : Don’t you get it, Mick. There ain’t nothing here. No thrones or nothing. (Pause.) It’s just echoes. That’s all. Just echoes . . . everything . . . and I’m tired of listening to echoes. (Pause.) So go home, Mick. Go and see Billy.

MICK : (Sad) I don’t wanna go back. I wanna finish the list.

DREW snatches the letter from MICK’s hand and tears it to pieces and throws it over the grave. MICK falls to his knees reaching for the pieces like magic.

DREW : There! . . . Now it’s finished..

DREW walks away and is finally about to exit. MICK remains on his knees.

MICK : My Billy ain’t at my home, Drew . . . (Destroyed.) I’ve got nothing.

Pause.

DREW : (Straight) How’d you even do this?

Pause.

MICK : (Honest) I lied to your mum.

A moment.

DREW : (Realising) Did you . . . was you that wrote that note, Mick?

Pause.

MICK : (Unsure) No . . .

Pause.

DREW : Are they your fucking shoes?

Pause.

MICK : (Breaking) No.

Long pause.

DREW : (Gentle.) We’re done here ain’t we, Mickey?

Pause.

MICK : Yea . . . (Defeated) Yea, we are, mate.

MICK gets up from his knees.

MICK : I’ll give you that lift though. If you still want it?

DREW : Just drop me at the station, Mick.

MICK : Can you . . . can you . . . just . . . give me a moment with him?

DREW : Whatever. I’ll meet you at the car.

Pause.

MICK : Yea.

DREW exits but is possibly still able to hear. MICK faces the tombstone.

MICK : I’m sorry, Darren . . . I’m so sorry . . . but he’s a good kid . . . I’m sorry you didn’t (starting to cry) . . . get to do this . . . he’ll be all right . . . (Stoic) he’ll be all right . . . (Pause.) God bless mate.

MICK kisses his hand and presses it up to the tombstone.

MICK : I’ll see ya . . . Dad . . . (Pause.) mate.

Pause.

Enter DREW at the side.

DREW : Here, Mick?

MICK turns from the grave.

DREW : You can buy me a birthday pint down the pub if you want?

MICK wipes his face with his hands.

DREW : We could pick up your Billy; go back to mine.

MICK almost smiles.

MICK : Yea . . . really . . . yea.

Black out.

 

The End.

 

© Simon Jagger

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