The Legacy by David Challenger
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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent
The time is mid morning and the setting is in a modern day living
room, the furniture and décor are some what dated. There is a
sideboard at the rear of the stage on which are a number of
photographs, vases and ornaments, some of which are quite valuable. To
front of stage there is a settee, coffee table and two armchairs, one
either side of front stage. There is one dining chair at the left side
of the window, which is centre at the back of the stage and looks out
into a tidy garden. There is a drinks table at the other side of the
window, a few pictures on the walls around the room. The door stage
left leads into a kitchen and the one stage right, is a front door,
which leads out of the house. There is a dining table on the side of
the stage right, on which there are some condolence cards and a clock.
Maggie enters looking somewhat distressed. She is in her late 50's
and dressed modestly, in clothes befitting a funeral. She has the
demeanour of a woman who has the worries of the world on her
shoulders. She flits around the stage looking for something, which she
has obviously misplaced; she is talking aloud to herself.
Maggie: Now where did I put that damn list?
She looks on sideboard and sees a photo of her late father, and picks
it up and starts to talk to it, wandering down stage.
I wish you could talk and then you could tell me where I've left my
list. You know I can't live without my little lists, don't you.
She puts the photo back, and starts looking around again
Now where did I put it? Damn and today of all days! I put it
somewhere safe, Think Maggie! Somewhere I would rememberit's got
all the things I have to do for the funeral on it
She starts to laugh
And now I've forgotten where I put it!
She picks up the photograph again and turns to fs
It's a pity you couldn't have organised your own funeral, then I
wouldn't have needed the list!
She sits down, still holding the photograph and talking to it
Because of you my life has been ruled by lists. Hundreds of them
pinned up all over the house. I used to dream of waking up and being
free from little notes!
She laughs to herself at her recollections
It was the Doctor's idea, "make a list" he said, of everything
I had to do each day when you were first taken ill. "It's just
just like keeping a diary" he said, when I told him I wasn't sure
I would be able to remember which tablets I had to give you. Then it
got worse after you had the second stroke and lost your speech, trying
to remember to make sure that you'd been to the toilet
She sighs and gazes at the photograph
When I forgot, you'd have a little accident and I would have
towell we'll not go into that. I just remember the house always
smelling of disinfectant! In between nursing you I had the cooking,
cleaning and shopping to do. So many things to remember the only
way I could manage to do them all was by those bloody lists. I became
paranoid in case I lost one like I have now
She goes and puts the photograph back on the sideboard, looks around
and then exits stage left muttering to herself
I must go and find it.
Philip and Vera enter stage right; they are a married couple, in
their sixties. Vera is Maggie's older sister. They are dressed for
attending a funeral, Vera in a black elegant dress, wearing a hat and
Philip in a smart suit and black tie. Vera talks in a rough accent
except when speaking to someone who doesn't know her, and then she
puts on her "posh" accent. Philip talks like an old army officer,
with a clipped accent, sometimes over exaggerated. They are a couple
that aspire to be better than they really are, but obviously do not
have the means to achieve it. Philip immediately starts looking around
for anything of value on the sideboard and Vera moves towards the door
Philip: Maggie doesn't seem to be in, I wonder where she is?
He turns to Vera
You don't think she's run off do you? It must have been a big
shock to her you know, after all that devotion and caring!
Vera looks through the door then turns back to Philip
Vera: She won't have run off Philip, she'll want her half of the
house won't she? How much do think its worth?
She looks around the room disdainfully, and wanders to front stage
It could do with a lick of paint. And as for all that devotion and
caring rubbish, she loved being the centre of attraction playing at
being Florence Nightingale.
She turns to Philip
She always was his favourite you know; he protected his "little
Maggie"! She couldn't do a thing wrong. Just as well really, I
couldn't have coped with nursing and cleaning him
Philip has wandered over to the sideboard and is admiring a fancy
vase. He picks it up and wanders over to Vera with it
Philip: This looks a bit special, it's a pity there aren't a
pair. You don't know if there's another do you? Could be quite
valuable! I could get it valued if you like and we could sell it and
put the proceeds towards our Spanish Villa fund?
Vera: Let me have a look.
She takes it from Philip and examines it casually
It's been in the family for years never really liked it myself.
But if you think its worth something we'll take it, after the
funeral. She'll never miss it, and it'll help to pay off a few
debts. Oh won't it be nice to have a few thousand pounds in the bank for
once? After the house is sold
She looks around the room
There's too many bad memories this house for me. I wonder where
she'll go, when we sell it.
Philip: We'll have to give her time; you can't just push her out
on the street.
He ponders for a moment, looking around the room, scratching his chin
mentally weighing the situation up
Mind you maybe we should consider a quick sale, its a good solid
house with plenty of potential must be worth quite a bit.
He walks around the room mentally weighing up its value
We could use some of your half to put towards that little villa we
liked in Spain?
Philip returns to the sideboard and examines more trinkets
Vera: You're right; we'll have to get it on the market straight
after the funeral! Give that estate agent friend of yours a ring and
ask him to come round.
Philip starts to move to the door stage right
And while you're at it ask him if he's got a bedsit or a small
flat to sell, for Maggie, something cheap and basic
Philip pauses and turns round
Philip If you're sure.
Vera: Yes I am.
Maggie enters stage left, carrying some fresh cut flowers, and her
list, and Philip moves over to the sideboard and continues picking up
and examining ornaments and knick knacks. Maggie appears startled.
Maggie: Oh! Have you two have you been here long?
Vera: No only about ten minutes, is everything organised Maggie?
Maggie: Almost. I've just got to check with the caterers, won't
be long; make yourselves a drink.
Maggie turns to leave. Vera raises her voice
Vera: Caterers!! What do you want to waste money on caterers for?
A sandwich, slice of pork pie and a glass of sherry, that's all
that people expect at a funeral. Philip have a word with her will you,
she might listen to you.
Philip turns to Vera
Philip: Look Vera. I don't think it will hurt to see the old chap
off with a nice little buffet. It's hardly likely to break the bank
He turns to Maggie
By the way Maggie, just out of interest, how much has it all cost
for the funeral?
Maggie: Ten thousand pounds, quite reasonable I thought
Vera: (screeching) Ten thousand pounds!! Good God! I didn't know we
were having a state funeral for him! If you think I am contributing to
half of that
She staggers and leans against the armchair stage right before
sitting down and putting her hand to her chest
I don't think my heart will stand up to the shock…ten thousand-pounds
that's a lot of money Maggie Philip get me a drink quickly make it a
stiff one! I need something for shock!
Philip goes to drinks table at the back of the stage and starts to
pour a drink. Maggie sits on the settee and faces Vera
Maggie: Don't worry Vera, it's not going to cost you anything,
father's insurance policy should cover it. We have to give him a
proper send off.
She starts to get excited
Wait until you see his coffin, its beautiful oak complete with brass
handles and it only cost a thousand poundsquite a bargain I
Vera: Maggie, don't you think ten thousand pounds is an awful lot
for a funeral! Do you know what I could do with that kind of money?
She pauses to contemplate the costs and murmurs
A thousand pounds for a coffin which is only going to go up in
smokewhat a waste
Philip returns with the drink and gives it to Vera who gulps it down
Maggie: I'm not really bothered what you could do with the money.
She glances at Philip
You'd probably waste it anyway.
Philip can sense the tension building
Philip: I think I'll have a quick snifter to keep out the cold.
It'll be damn draughty standing around outside the crematorium.
Philip returns to the drinks table and pours himself a drink.
Maggie: He's not going to the crematorium.
Vera: What! Well where the hell is he going? The council tip?
Maggie: No of course not, he's going in a nice little plot in the
cemetery. That's why I bought him a nice coffin, so he'll be
comfortable. I've bought a family plot, for you and me, Philip and
She gets excited
It will take all four of us; we'll all be together in the
Vera: Over my dead body we will.
Philip: (Muttering under his breath) That can be arranged
Vera What did you say?
Philip Err I said it sounds as good as arranged
Vera: Can't you go and find something useful to do while I have a
word with our Maggie and find out what else she's been spending
money on besides family plots, I bet they don't come cheap either.
What's wrong with a nice cheap little cremation?
Maggie: I can't go and see him if he's been cremated can I?
Vera: Go and see him! What do you want to go and see him for! For
God's sake Maggie, he'll be six feet under and pushing up the
daisies in his very expensive oak coffin
Philip turns to Maggie and tries to be reassuring
Philip: But it's comforting to know that he's there isn't it?
Maggie: I knew you'd understand Philip.
She turns back to Vera
I've ordered a headstone as well, a black marble one, and had it
engraved in gold.
Vera: And how much was that?
Before Maggie can respond Vera puts her hands up to stop her
No don't tell me, I've had enough shocks already. I think I need
some more medicine Philip.
Philip goes and takes Vera's glass from her
Philip: Look here Vera you've got to see the old chap off
properly put on a bit of a show and well if it's from an
insurance policy then it's not really our money is it?
Vera stands up and walks to stage left.
Vera: I need a lie down.
She stops and beckons Philip over to her
I want you find out what else she's been spending money on apart
from fancy funerals. Don't forget, the more she spends, the less for
Vera exits stage left. Philip goes and sits in the armchair stage
Maggie (sarcastically) Her weak heart playing up again is it?
Philip: No, I think she's just a bit worn out that's all. Just
out of interest, did he leave anything? I mean apart from the
Maggie: Yes Philip, he left a will, which is being read after the
funeral, after all that's what you're really here for isn't it,
Philip tries to make light-hearted conversation
Philip: No of course not. By the way, we were thinking of staying
over tonight if that's all right, to keep you company?
Maggie: To keep me company! Don't make me laugh. What you mean is
it's cheaper to stop here than the B and B like you usually do?
Philip: (Nervously) No of course not. We just thought it might be a
good idea to stay here and give you a bit of support. I'm sure
it's going to be a very stressful day for you and Vera.
Maggie stands up angrily
Maggie: Stress! What would either of you two know about stress?
Philip moves over and sits down at her side and puts his arm around
her shoulder. Maggie immediately brushes him off stands and moves away
from him. Philip stands up and follows her
Philip: (Pleadingly) Now calm down old girl, you'll make yourself ill.
Maggie turns around to face him
Maggie: Don't you dare tell me to calm down and stop calling me
"old girl"! I remember the last time you called me that and then
you just! Well you know what happened don't you!
She takes a few steps away from him, Philip follows her, and is now
talking to her back trying to placate her
Philip: I'm sorry Maggie, I know you're upsetwhat with the
funeral andtell you what you needlet me get you a drink to
steady your nerves? That'll do the trickrelieve the stress
Maggie turns on him
Maggie: I do not need a drink! I am feeling perfectly well under the
circumstances. If only you and Vera had been through a fraction of
what I have over the past five years, you might understand what real
Philip: We both appreciate what you've done, really we do, all
those years you've spent looking after the old man, believe me if
anyone deserves a medal it's you
Maggie: Don't patronise me Philip!
Maggie turns away from him and takes a few steps downstage.
I did it because I loved him, for all his faults!
She turns to face him
Remember that word do you? "Love". Remember saying it a long
Philip approaches her and speaks in a low, calm voice
Philip: Look Maggie, I know you're upset, but there's no need to
bring that up
He lowers his voice
Maggie: When is the right time then?
Her tone changes
Your little girl has to keep quiet? I can tell you that I wasn't
Daddy's good little girl when I got pregnant!
She starts to get angry
Do you know what he called me? "A common slut"! I had to lie to
him, lie to my own father and tell him I'd had a one night stand
with a soldier friend of yours! He thought his favourite little girl
was desperate for a manany manfor sex! I felt humiliated!
She turns away from him
In a perverse sort of way, I think he was pleased. A pregnant
daughter not married would be reliant on him. He was quite shocked
when I told him I was going to have the child adopted.
She turns to face Philip and she starts to laugh
Then when Vera presented him with Patrick he was so surprised he
forgot about my misdemeanour. He was delighted to have a grandson.
She turns back to him in an angry mood
If only he'd known the truth eh Philip! If only he'd known that
I'd given birth to your son!
He got his own back of course; you never got away with anything with
father. I did years of hard labour for my little mistake. Night and
day at his beck and call! I had to do everything for him. Have you
ever had to look after someone who is incontinent Philip? It was like
a prison sentence without parole! Then he died.
She smiles and her tone becomes lighter
It was like a breath of fresh airMaggie could start a new life
Philip: You should have called us? We could have helped Vera could
Maggie interrupts him
Maggie: Vera could have what? Cleaned him? Washed his soiled clothes?
Don't make me laugh!
She smiles at him calmly
Anyway Philip, that's all in the past now
She walks to stage left smiling before turning back to him
I'm going to start a new life as from today and I'd like
someone to share it with me
Philip smiles at her assuming that she means him
I'd like my son back!
Philip reacts panic stricken and approaches her
Philip: What! You can't be serious Maggie? Not after all this time.
Its just not
Maggie interrupts him
Maggie: I take it Patrick is coming to the funeral?
Philip: Yes of course he is. Why?
Maggie: Well, I think it's time he knew the truth, don't you?
Philip: No! For God's sake, he's innocent in this and you won't
tell him, not if you care about him! Please don't tell him, not for
me or Vera, but for
Vera enters stage left
Vera: What's not for Vera?
Philip stares hard at Maggie; she turns her back on him and sits down
on the settee. Philip turns smiling at Vera trying to pass it off in a
Philip: Are you feeling better?
Philip walks over to her and pecks her on the cheek.
I was just saying to Maggie, if not for you, I don't know how I
would have survived.
Vera brushes him aside
Vera: What are you after? It must be money. It's the only thing you
get passionate about!
Philip goes to get himself a drink. Vera turns on him angrily
You've always been full of false promises, I should never have
Philip approaches Vera who goes and sits in the armchair stage right
and tries to act in a light -hearted manner
Philip: You fell in love with my uniform didn't you as well as
Vera goes and sits in the armchair stage right. She turns to Maggie.
Vera: God what a fool I was. I had the romantic notion that he was a
dashing officer rising up through the ranks I had real "Barbara
Cartland" aspirations for us, mixing with the officers in the
regimental dinners, getting dressed for dinner… romantic
She turns to look at Philip and her manner changes
Then I found out the truth! He was a quartermaster with no commission
and no prospects.
I had married a store man! A man at the bottom of the army ladder
with no chance of getting above the first step. I didn't find out
until the wedding day!
She glances disdainfully at Philip who reacts
I was expecting an officer's guard of honour as I walked up to the
church, all crossed swordsnot a bunch of drunken squaddies!
She turns to Maggie
When I got to the altar I thought well it's the man I'm
marrying not his rank how wrong can you be?
Maggie: To be honest with you, I always thought he was an officer
Philip is now stood to the side of Vera looking embarrassed and
Maggie addresses him directly
You always dressed and talked like an officer whenever I saw you on
Philip: Well.I used to borrow a uniform and learned to speak with
a posh accent to create an officer image.
He pauses, smiling to himself
It worked like a charm at meetings with the bank manager when I
needed an overdraft. They never say no to an officer. I took the
uniform when I left the army, thought it might come in handy.
Vera: Pushed out you mean!
She turns to Maggie
Court Martialled he was! It was so embarrassing. We were turned out
like crooks, we lost the house and everything, all over a few missing
Maggie looks at Philip
Maggie: How can you lose a rifle?
Vera: He didn't lose them Maggie, he stole them!
Maggie: You stole rifles from the army?
Philip: Not exactly. They were sort of lost.
Vera: Two hundred to be precise.
Maggie reacts. Philip looks at Vera who turns away not wanting to be
Philip: It was Vera's idea to begin with
He pauses as Vera looks at Maggie and shakes her head
I didn't think they'd miss them and lost them in the system, call
it a bit of creative stocktaking. I smuggled them off the base and
sold them to a chap in a bar, in Germany where I was based. He told me
that he owned a shooting club gave me a good price as well, it was
just to raise a bit of cash to pay a few bills, we were a bit short of
money at the time.
Vera glares at him
Vera: We were always short of money thanks to you!
She turns back to Maggie
We were desperate and I suggested to him if it was safe, to take a
few dozen not two hundred! A few they wouldn't miss he said
She turns back to Philip
But you had to be greedy. And we both suffered for the
Maggie looks at Philip and starts to laugh at the absurdity of it
Maggie: You got caught I take it?
Philip: Yes unfortunately. I thought I'd tidied up all the
paperwork, but it turned out that this German chap was an arms dealer
and he got caught selling them on. The serial numbers were traced back
and I was quietly court martialled. It was all kept clean and tidy and
stopped too many questions being asked. It wouldn't have looked too
clever if word had got out that the Army had lost firearms, with
terrorists and all that stuff happening.
Maggie: I can't believe it; I'm related to a pair of crooks!
Vera tries to play this revelation down
Vera: To be honest with you, our financial situation was quite dire
at the time, so we had to do something
Maggie: No wonder you never had time to visit father or help me to
look after him, you were too busy with your criminal careers! I'm
surprised that I never had to visit you in prison!
Vera ignores her and turns to Philip smiling at the memory
Vera: Do you remember that little contribution to our pension fund
by Evans and Lewis wasn't it?
Philip is becoming worried that Vera is revealing too much
Philip: Of course I do. Now enough is enough Vera please, I think
Maggie has heard quite enough already.
Maggie looks intrigued
Maggie: No! Carry on, you're showing a side of you I never knew. I
always wondered how you managed to get on so well, now I know, it was
all down to crime.
Vera: I'll treat that remark with the contempt it deserves!
Philip: That's enough! It's all in the past Maggie. People do
certain things quite out of characterwhen they are desperate
Maggie: Yes I know all about your desperate circumstances!
Philip glares at Maggie. Vera glares at Philip
Vera: What have you been telling her Philip?
Philip looks worried and turns to Vera
Philip: Nothing, I promise you.
Vera: You haven't told her how you embezzled all that money from
Evans and Lewis?
Philip smiles looking slightly relieved
Philip No I haven't! It's our secret isn't it?
Maggie starts to laugh
Maggie: I can't believe this! No wonder you wanted to keep it a
secret! Apart from stealing rifles from the Army, you are also
involved in embezzlement? Is there anything that you two criminals
haven't been up to?
Philip turns to Maggie in an attempt to diffuse the situation
Philip: It's not as bad as it sounds. I worked for this finance
company and had been overlooked for promotion several times. It seemed
to be the story of my life, so I decided to give myself a little
revenge bonus, with Vera's assistance, didn't I?
Vera is put on the spot by Philip
Vera: If you must know, opened up a bank account and Philip
transferred some money into it, which he had found in a dormant
account. It was only a few thousand pounds, but it paid off our debts
and bought us a few flights to Spain to look at a Villa we were hoping
to buy. It was just dead money, the bank could afford it and nobody
Maggie shakes her head in amazement
Philip: I know it was wrong, but it was a difficult time for us.
Maggie: Oh I understand all about difficult times, I had twenty years
of them, looking after our father.
She turns mockingly to Vera
My life was quite different to yours! I couldn't even go on a day
trip to Blackpool let alone jet off to look at Villas in Spain.
She turns to Philip
One thing intrigues me though.
Philip: What's that?
Maggie How come you're not both in prison?
Vera: Because we never got caught. We weren't greedy like some
criminals and we only took what we thought we could get away with. We
did it to survive!
[end of extract]
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