Smales and Swagger
‘With The Fondules’
Recap for the slow of study:
Penny and Gerald are a wealthy, elderly couple. They have recently been told that an experimental and vigorous sex life will extend life in a fun and exciting way.
Manacled to the bed, with a porn mag attached to his head via a coat hanger, Gerald needs a wee wee quite badly now.
Local butcher, Harold Snout is searching in the house for hidden loot. His associate, Dibbler has been electrocuted by a deadly killer electric eel and has completely disappeared in a puff of smoke. Unlikely? OK, let’s carry on.
The lights come up, the smoke clears, and a party is visible down stage centre. These are Reverend Mough, Inspector Nikkers and Constables Ample, Burk and Cruntey.
Already the three constables are lined up as if on parade, while Mough walks around the stage muttering strange incantations and waving a thurible that belches smoke.
Bell, book and candle,
bell book and candle…..
Nikkers: Right, men, fall in, fall in for inspection and briefs. Don’t snigger, Cruntey, that’s not the police way.
Nikkers paces up and down the line of policemen, arms behind his back in a military fashion, snapping, scowling, barking orders.
Cruntey: Sorry, sir, it’s when you said briefs. Sounded a bit dirty, sir.
Nikkers: Dirty? Don’t be puerile, Cruntey. There’s nothing dirty about briefs. This is a serious situation involving the murder your esteemed colleague, WPC Clumpfoot.
Cruntey: Yes sir. Actually sir, we was having a talk about that sir, in the Panda, and it turns out that none of us actually liked the WPC very much sir. She was a bit fat and sweaty sir.
Cruntey: Yes sir. In fact, sir, me, Ample and Burk drew the short straws, sir.
Nikkers: That is no way to speak of a fellow officer, Cruntey, especially one that has just died a horrible death in pursuit of her duties.
Ample: To be fair to Cruntey, sir, she was pretty sweaty.
Burk: And fat, sir.
Bell, book and candle,
bell book and candle, holy martyrs, ill will and tempest…
Nikkers: All right, I admit she was a bit heavily boned. She told me she had problems with her glands. Well, we can’t help problems with glands, can we? We all get problems with glands.
Cruntey: She had problems with helpings, sir, not glands.
Burk: Yes, double apple dumplings and custard, sir, in the police canteen on a Tuesday.
Ample: And steamed plum duff sir. She was a devil for steamed plum duff.
Burk: Liked a sausage, too, sir. Always one for a spare sausage, if a spare sausage was to be had, sir.
Cruntey: And you wasn’t the one pushing her arse around on the police assault course during Friday training, sir.
Ample: Terrible bloody job, that, sir, shoving her through those tunnel entrances, sir. Always getting herself stuck up the entrance, she was. Winnie the Poo Poo, that’s what the lads called her.
Cruntey: In fact, sir, me and the boys was wondering if we could abandon search and go home and watch the match, if you don’t mind?
Nikkers: Who’s playing? (pause) Shut up! No, you can’t go home and abandon search, you can abandon hope, that’s what, of watching the bloody match. If I’ve got to be here then so have you. This could be a serious police matter. Now, let’s see those truncheons!
Nikkers paces down the line, inspecting. When he gets to Cruntey, he notices the truncheon is somewhat limp and is actually a rolled up copy of The Dandy. Mough continues his mutterings and incantations, occasionally singing hymnal snatches.
Nikkers: Cruntey! Explain your truncheon. It is not at the correct level of active duty stiffness.
Cruntey: I regret to inform you I have misappropriated my standard issue police truncheon in the line of duty, sir, and was forced to replace it with a home made, rolled up newspaper truncheon.
Nikkers: Is that the police staffroom issue of The Beano?
Cruntey: No, The Dandy, sir.
Nikkers: Good idea, Cruntey. That’s the sort of improvised thinking that made
Nikkers stands to one side and puffs out his chest.
Nikkers: On the order, fall out and find the murderer….
Bell, book and candle, our
Lord we beseech you, preserve the fruit, preserve the fruit…
Nikkers: Shut up, Mough!
Mough: Oh, I say!
Nikkers: Squad…wait for it, wait for it…fall out and find-the-murderer!
Ample, Burk and Cruntey do a synchronised left term and double match around the stage in a precise line up until they disappear out of the door upstage centre. They blow police whistles and wave their truncheons in synchronised threatening gestures. The whistles fade into the distance as they depart.
Nikkers continues to pace then looks reluctantly at the carpet shrouded body of WPC Clumpfoot. Mough continues to belch smoke, mutter and eventually joins the Inspector in contemplation.
Nikkers: Terrible business, this, Reverend, to lose ones beloved colleague in this shocking way.
Mough: Oh yes. I was just saying to Top-It-Up-Ted, at the petrol station, Ted, I said, murder most foul, Ted, murder most foul.
Nikkers: Yes, Reverend.
Mough: Well, Up-The-Pipe-Pete said he’d never seen a murder that ended in a good way. He’d seen plenty, but none that boded well, Inspector.
Nikkers: I see.
Mough: Oh – I feel your pain, Inspector, I feel your pain. However, if you’ll pardon the pun, I have grave news for you. From Him up there. He tells me there is evil afoot. I said the same to Top-Shelf-Tess, evil in that house, Tess, I said, ancient evil, stirring and awakening.
Nikkers: What? Evil? Who told you, God or Top-Shelf-Tess?
Mough: (taking a swig from a hip flask) Mmmm. Well. It might have been
I suppose, but it comes to the same thing. Oo…yes. I can feel the presence of
Beelzebub and his all his smiteful hordes here. We’ll have to have an exorcism,
book and candle, bell book and candle….no doubt about it. We’ll have to clean
out the spirits from the house.
Nikkers: Oh, stop it. Evil spirits? Don’t be a fool, man.
At the moment that Mough starts to mutter about evil spirits and such like, in the dungeon next door, a hideous apparition enters and it mysteriously illuminates in supernatural light…Gerald, ignorant of the doings next door, is now seen in a sharper silhouette, the porn magazine still attached to his head. The apparition starts to approach him menacingly, making various ghostly noises, clanking chains and so forth. He twists in fear, still manacled to the bed.
This, of course, can only be seen by the audience.
Mough waves his incense vigorously then reaches down as if to remove the rug from the corpse on the floor, muttering all the time.
Nikkers: (horrified) No! That’s a crime scene!
Mough: (offering the hip flask) Pardon me, I’m sure. I was only going to see if there was an evil spirit in there. You seem a bid edgy, Inspector. Would you like a communion wine, holy water spritzer?
Nikkers: Not when I’m on duty, thank you. Can you hear something? Clanking chains, unholy wailing, blood curdling screams, that sort of thing?
Mough: Oh, I say. I think I can, Inspector.
The ghost continues its menacing in the dungeon next door. It starts to examine various dangerous looking instruments of sexual torture and these it variously prods and pokes at Gerald with, who screams and writhes, pulling at his chains.
Next door’s menacing is obscured, however, by the approaching sound of booted double marching feet and synchronised police whistles. Still in single file, but now with Portions and Nitley sandwiched between them, cuffed, gagged, protesting and being truncheoned in time to the marching, Ample, Burk and Cruntey reappear. They march triumphantly back to the Inspector.
Cruntey: We have found and apprehended the murderers, sir. One was on the toilet and the other was by the telephone.
Nikkers: Excellent work, Constable Cruntey. Evil spirits, indeed. A simple whodunit, padre.
Mough: (wafting smoke at the murder party)
Bell, book and
candle….pour forth to thy God… Tell me, Constable Cruntey, what were they
doing? Were they engaged in vile summoning up the devil rites?
Cruntey: Oh, yes, sir. Yes they were. He (pointing at Nitley) was engaged in a suspicious use of the telephone and he (pointing at Portions) was making an unholy stink on the pot. It was very suspicious, very suspicious indeed. It wasn’t rights, it was wrongs, sir.
Nikkers: Well let’s hear what they have to say for themselves before we charge them and take them down the station.
Cruntey painfully removes masking tape from the mouths of Nitley and Portions. The menacing in the dungeon continues apace.
Portions: I protest. I wasn’t summoning up the devil. I was merely using the lavatory. This oaf broke down the door, barged in, stole my toilet paper and dragged me off. I hadn’t even finished!
Cruntey: It’s very easy for him to say that now, but you weren’t there. There was a thick smell of sulphur, sir.
Mough: Oh, my word!
Nitley: All I was doing was phoning the Prime Minister to tell him I might be late for the damned vote.
Cruntey: Did you hear that? Condemned by his own mouth, sir. Damned boat. The boat that crosses the river into the underworld, sir.
Mough: I certainly did. Let us exorcise these poor, lost souls.
Cruntey: Exercise? I think a truncheoning might be better, sir. We’ll not beat a confession out of them by making them do sit ups and jogging on the spot.
Nikkers: He has a point there. I have never exacted a satisfactory confession from a suspect by asking him to jog on the spot, Mough.
Nitley: Shut up, the pair of you. We’re not devil worshippers or murderers. I phoned you in the first place.
Portions: Yes. There’s a perfectly simple explanation to all of this, if you’ll allow me.
Nikkers: Here. Aren’t you that Doctor Hilary Portions, off the telly? Broken hearts mended, black heads removed and foot fungus powder sold at a knock down price?
Portions: I don’t have to advertise ‘Clearafoot’ you know, I only do it because it’s a safe, proven method of birth control…yes, yes I am.
Nikkers: (indicating Portions’ hair) My wife says that’s a wig.
Portions: Does she. Well it isn’t. I just style it that why because my fans say it suits me.
Nikkers: Which fans are those, then?
Portions: Pass me that remote control, Inspector.
Portions struggles free and seizes the remote control which he presses decisively. The bed swivels into the room containing a terrified Gerald, still struggling against the manacles, still with the porn mag attached, shaking from left to right in terror.
Gerald: Portions! Thank God!
Portions: Never mind that, Swagger, can you verify to all present that I am not a murderer?
Gerald: No! No! Death stalks the house! It will have its revenge!
Portions: You bastard!
Nikkers: Constables! Seize this man and his accomplice.
Mough: Wait, Inspector. I think there’s more. Speak. Tell us what you have seen.
Gerald: I’ve seen a ghost. A terrible spirit. An agent of the devil who swears that none of us will leave this house alive. A ghost. A fucking ghost!
Mough: You see? I told you. Now, who’s for a bit of holy water?