This story, concerning a group of friends from a questionable corner in London, is written in the form of a short play. If anyone feels like staging it, or making a short film out of it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, because I’d love to see it…

Tough Times

Cast: Al, Benny, Tony, John, Richie.
First Scene: Al, Benny and Tony, all in their late teens, sit around a table in a darkened corner of a pub. They sip at their pints as Al is talking:

Al: Listen right, y’know that photo shoot I wus tellin’ you about?

Tony:[Sneering and nudging Benny ] Wot, with them arty farty ponces you fuck around with, licking their arses and that? [Benny starts giggling]

Al: Awright, awright, shut it, you want to hear the story or not? Right, well they got this assistant….

Benny: [Mincing] Oooh, was ‘e nice then?

Al: She, ya cunt, was she nice – she was fucking stonkin’ she was, real nice, well better than the fucking buses you barge around with mate. Anyways, she wants to come back to my studio to …

Tony: [Winking at Benny] y’mean yer bedsit don’t you? Or ‘ave we suddenly expanded into the Camden fucking Market for queers and nobs? In which case I want that grand you owe me…

Al: [Hurt] Ok, ok, my fucking bedsit, what does it matter. She comes back to my place to see me do the editing on the computer. We’re sitting there, like close up, I was like showing her my stuff, and how I cut it and all, and she’s really into it, and like rubbing her leg ‘gainst mine, touching my hand, giving all the right signals and that, and what do I do, what do I go and do?

Benny: uuh, you give her one?

Al: I let off, didn’t I? I farted. My guts came whistling out my arse, but it was one of them silent ones y’know, and I couldn’t smell nothing so I says nothing – what should I say? But, after a bit the stench comes, and what a stench. Like my guts had rotted and been laid out on the table, a real cauliflower cheese and bad eggs one. I was sittin’ there, going beetroot red thinking fuck fuck fuck when she turns to me and says “how can you sit there and stand there smell?” all posh like, and I starts to apologize and says it’s my breakfast or dinner or somefing like that and she starts laughin’ at me, grabs my hand and says it wasn’t me, she wus the one that just guffed, she’d been doing it all morning and didn’t know how I could sit there and take it. You couldn’t smell my fart a bit
Tony: Yeah, and? You give ‘er one?

Al: [Sarcastically] After such an intimate exchange of body odours I don’t fink neiver of us wus into it.

Tony: [Looking at Benny] See, told you so, ‘e’s a fucking poof. [Both start laughing].

Al: [Looking concerned] Where’s Billy got to? ‘E should’ve been here by now.

Tony: That Billy ‘as been pissing me right off as of late. ‘E’s been gettin’ right above ‘is fuckin’ station an’ that gets my fuckin’ goat. ‘E’s been showin’ a lack of respect to ‘is mates that ‘e’s not fucking earned.

Benny: What’re you suggesting then?

Tony: That we give ‘im a good fuckin’ tellin’ off, that’s what I’m fuckin’ suggestin’ an’ if ‘e’s not complying then ‘e’ll get a fuckin’ good hiding from yours truly.

Al: Fuckin’ hell Tone, is that your answer to everyfing? Put the boot in? The guys’ just a bit late that’s all. An’ if ‘e’s been gettin’ a bit full of ‘imself it’s ‘cos ‘e’s got a new job , a thing you would know fuck all about.

Tony: Don’t you worry ‘bout me mate, I get my fucking money my way, an’ you lot ‘d do better to fuckin’ get back in there an’ make some proper fuckin’ cash, ‘stead of poncin’ round wif your fuckin’ poncy day jobs. I got a real earner lined up an’ my mates should be in on it. Benny’ll be there, won’t you mate?

Benny: [Looking down] Guess so, got no fuckin’ choice ‘ave I?

Al: Tone, we talked ‘bout this. We got to move on, the old days, they’re fuckin’ over mate , else we’ll end up dead or inside otherwise. Benny don’t have to do it neither.

Tony: You keep your fuckin’ oar out of this ‘cos, if you ain’t got the bottle Benny ‘as, ‘aven’t you mate. Your no better than that fucking Billy with your fuckin’ photography. If you ask me that is just your excuse ‘cos you can’t hack it no more, and now you don’t want no-one thievin’ no more ‘cos it makes you look fuckin’ bad.

Al: My bottle is not at issue here, an’ even if it was I don’t give a flying fuck what you think, right. Get yerself a fuckin’ future is all I’m sayin’ an’ if you don’t want to that’s your fucking business, innit. But don’t drag no-one else under wiv you, right?

Tony: No-one’s goin’ to nab us, ain’t that right Benny?

The pub door opens and John walks in, his arm is in a sling, there is blood on his shirt and his face is white. The three look over as he walks towards them.

Al: ‘ullo you ol’ fucker, you look like you been in the fuckin’ wars mate.

Tony: Hey weren’t you wiv that fucking turd Billy today, where is the cunt? I’m lookin’ fer ‘im. That twat’s goin’ to get a fuckin’ kicking.

John: [Bursts into tears and starts shouting] Billy, you gormless fuck, is fucking dead, so don’t go givin’ me any fuckin’ bullshit grief ‘bout Billy. I’m fucking lucky I’m not there with ‘im, you cunt.

Al: [Concern and shock in his voice] What you mean Billy’s dead, I saw ‘m ‘ere just fuckin’ yesterday.

John: [Wiping at his face] I’m tellin’ you ‘e’s fuckin’ dead right. Check with the fuckin’ old Bill if you want, I just come from there.

Al: What ‘appened John, they do that to your arm? Here mate, calm down a bit an’ take a seat. [Passes him a chair which John sits down in].

Al: C’mon, what’s been goin’ on?

John: Right, it was this morning, I was wiv Billy in his car, we wus just drivin’ to pick up some of ‘is gear from my place, an’ then ‘e sees Hainsworth passin’ us on the left like.

Tony: Hainsworth, wot fuckin’ Hainsworth is that then, there’s fuckin’ millions of the buggers…

John: It wus Richie, wasn’t it, Richie Hainsworth. Anyways, Billy sees ‘im ans says the cunt owes ‘im, an’ starts drivin’ like a fuckin’ nutter after Richie who tries gettin’ away.

Tony: That cunt can’t fuckin’ drive to save ‘is Grandma’s bacon…
Al: [Cutting Tony off] Shut it will ya, let ‘m finish the fuckin’ story. Go on John, wot ‘appened?

John: It happened really quick, Billy cuts Richie off, an’ Richie jus jumps out the car with a shooter and starts blasting away. Billy didn’t ‘ave a fuckin’ chance, ‘e caught it right in the fuckin’ face, ‘e don’t ‘ave no face left. I wus lucky an’ jus copped it in the arm, but Billy’s fuckin’ dead boys. I can’t believe it meself an’ I was fuckin’ there. But ‘es fuckin’ dead ‘e is, I’m tellin’ you, I swear to it, Mother’s life an’ all.

Al: We believe you, we believe you, but why’d Richie do somefing like that, like Billy’s a mate of ‘is, they’re from the same fuckin’ manor an’ everyfing. Fuck, we all grew up on the same fuckin’ manor, what the fucks’ goin’ on here.

Tony: I tell you what’s goin’ on ‘ere, that fuckin’ ‘ainsworth ‘as gone an’ joined another gang an’ they’re tryin’ to expand onto our fuckin’ turf, that’s whats ‘appened. An’ I tell you what, I’m goin’ to make sure that that bastard is not goin’ to be walkin’ round ‘ere fer long. [Pulls a pistol from under his jacket and places it meaningfully onto the table]

Al: [Looking at Tony incredulously] What is that? What the fuck you goin’ on about you thick twat? We are not fuckin’ yardies, we do not ‘ave fuckin’ turf fer someone to move onto, we do not ‘ave a fuckin’ gang to be taken over, an’ what the fuck’re you doin’ wiv a fuckin’ shooter? We do the occasional robbing an’ that is it. What you goin’ to do, fuckin’ shoot the cunt? You’ll get us all fuckin’ killed mate. Richie Hainsworth is not someone to be messed round wiv.

Tony: [Looking hurt, puts the gun back under his jacket] Nor am I, nor am I, as you will find out if you do not watch your fuckin’ mouth.

Al: Awright, awright, this is not gettin’ us anywhere. John, you got any ideas why the cunt did that?

John: Look, I wus more concerned ‘bout gettin’ out of there in one piece, an’ not too concerned with the particulars of what Richie Hainsworth thought ‘e was fuckin’ up to back there. I told the coppers that ‘n all, but they didn’t fuckin’ believe me. Reckoned it wus a gang thing or a drugs thing. But I told ‘em that Billy wasn’t into all that. Man, ‘e was fuckin’ ‘armless that kid. I did hear one thing though, that Richie says. ‘E like ran over to us after shootin’ and jus looks in an’ says somefing like “I thought you wus pigs” but that was it.

Benny: “Thought you wus pigs,” like old Bill? But you don’t go shootin’ fuckin’ old Bill do you?

Al: Hainsworth would, the guy’s a fuckin’ nutter. You don’t fink it wus like a case of mistaken identity?

Tony: Then I’ll fuckin’ mistake ‘is identity as well when I put the cunt down. It don’t matter what ‘appened, just that we revenge Billy’s killin’. An’ if you lot ain’t got the bottle for it I’ll do it on me own.

The pub door opens. Richie Hainsworth walks in. He is in his early thirties, smartly dressed in a suit. He walks towards the table, his hands raised in a conciliatory gesture.

Tony: [Stands up, draws his pistol, points it at Richie. Shouts] Just stay there you murdering cunt, just stand there.

Richie: Awright son, awright, I’m not movin’. I know your upset, ‘e wus a friend of yours an’ all, but it was a mistake right. An’ I’m here to clear it up with all of you.

Tony: What you mean a fuckin’ mistake. ‘E wus one of your mates an’ you fuckin’ shot ‘im. I am not going to believe one fuckin’ word that you say mate, and I swear to you I will see you fuckin’ dead. Keep your fuckin’ hands where I can see them.

Al: [Stands up] Tone, mate, calm down, let ‘im say ‘is piece. What if ‘e made a mistake mate, what then?

Tony: Billy wus our mate. ‘Ow can you talk like that. Billy wus our mate and this cunt put a bullet in ‘im. Mistake or no fuckin’ mistake ‘e don’t deserve to live.

Richie: I swear to you, I did not know it wus Billy. I love Billy like a fucking little brother, but they starts chasin’ me like they were fuckin’ police, I did not know who the fuck it was. I am sorry man, but you know I’m not playin’ fuckin’ games out there, an’ Billy should’ve known better.

Tony: I don’t fuckin’ care, I do not give a toss, you hear me?

Richie: Then do it, stop fuckin’ mouthin’ off an’ fuckin’ do it. Go an’ pull that trigger.

Al: Tony, you ain’t no murderer, jus drop it, leave it man.

Tony: Outside, we’re goin’ to settle this outside. Go on, move. I’ll decide out there what to do wiv ‘im.

The group move out of the pub into its car park, Richie leading the way Tony following two or three metres behind with the gun pointing at Richie. The others follow. Richie slowly turns around, he has a small pistol in his hand which he fires at Tony five times. Tony drops to the floor, dead. Al bends down over him.

Al: You fuckin’ killed ‘im, you didn’t even give ‘im a chance. ‘E wouldn’t ‘ave done nuffink. ‘E wus jus mouthin’ off.

Richie: Couldn’t take the chance could I? An’ you don’t know with these young wankers, they got no style. For all I know ‘e could’ve shopped me, or thought about it an’ come after me later. I can’t afford that sort of shit you understand? I hope that’s some kind of lesson fer you lot, we don’t want you endin’ up like ‘im do we? So not a fuckin’ word, right?

Al: It was a fuckin’ lesson alright. [He has Tony’s pistol in his hand, he fires it at Richie, who falls to the ground, dead] An’ we learned it good.

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© andrew rossiter 2009