The Volunteer: Extract

An extract from Act One Scene Two:

(Martin, who has recently arrived, is in the boys’ dormitory with David, another newcomer. Joan comes in with Kevin, dressed in his pyjamas. She sees David)

Joan: Oh dear. (To Martin) No change?

Martin: Not yet.

Kevin: This the new bloke then?

Martin: That’ s right.

Kevin: What’s up wi’ him?

Martin: He’s just a little homesick.

Kevin: Well we don’t want him throwin’ up in here.

Joan: Don’t be silly. Come on David, let’s see if we can’t take you out of yourself for a bit. We have to go and see the nurse.

David: But the pain’s gone now miss. Honest,

Joan: Don’t worry. It’s just routine,

Kevin: Yer’d better watch out. He fiddles with yer balls.

Joan: That’ll do Kevin.

Kevin: It’s true. He makes yer cough an then has a good grope at yer goolies.

Joan: Thanks for those words of encouragement.

Kevin: Any time.

Joan: Come on David. Don’t take any notice. (To Martin) Keep an eye on Kevin, will you?

Martin: Sure.

(Joan takes David out. Kevin sits on his bed) Any special reason I’ve to keep my eye on you?

Kevin: To admire my great beauty.

Martin: That apart.

Kevin: I bin a naughty boy,

Martin: Just now?

Kevin: Scrappin’ with Bubbles on the pitch. He’s such a twat. He lets in goals anyone else would a saved with one arm in a sling.

Martin: I’m sure he tries.

Kevin: He ought to be killed off. He’s just a burden on the population.

Martin: Isn’t that a little hard?

Kevin: I am hard. You ask round our estate. They’re all shit-scared of me.

(Peter, Andrew and Gareth enter in their pyjamas)

Peter: Yer got to face facts. You were licked.

Andrew: Jammy buyers. You pot more jam than Hartley’s, mate.

Peter: Yer mean skill.

Kevin: It’s cos Bubbles’s so pathetic. Any side that ends up wi’ him should be given a ten goal handicap.

Gareth: It ain’t my fault I got double vision.

Kevin: Yer won’t have no vision at all if yer don’t shut up.

Peter: Yer just won’t admit when yer beat.

Andrew: It was my friggin’ boots. Two sizes too small. Nigh on crippled me.

Peter: Bad workman blames his tools.

Kevin: Playin’ with yer tool. Dirty bugger.

Andrew: (Threatening) You askin’ for trouble?

Kevin: Yeh. Why not?

Martin: Now don’t let’s quarrel.

Andrew: (Instantly turning on him) Who’s quarrellin’?

Martin: Well no one. I thought….

Andrew: Yer thought wrong then, didn’t you?

Martin: Yes. I suppose I did.

(The boys mooch around) What happens now? Remember, I’m relying on you to show me the ropes. Do you get into bed?

Kevin: That depends who with, don’t it? (He laughs)

Martin: Oh yes. They should issue you with a sign. Beware of the jokes.

Gareth: D’you like jokes, sir? I know some great ones.

Peter: Go back to sleep Bubbles. No one’s interested.

Gareth: Why not? Why’s everyone else have a chance to speak an not me?

Peter: Cos you’re so wet. That’s why.

Kevin: Yeh. In the head an in the bed.

Gareth: Leave off, can’t you?

Martin: Yes. That’s not something you should say, even in fun.

Peter: But it’s true. Honest. I don’t like to sleep near him. It ain’t hygienic.

Martin: Well don’t let’s harp on it.

Kevin: If yer don’t believe us, see for yerself. (He goes to Gareth’s bed and rips open the bedding) There. He has to have a rubber sheet. (Gareth tries to pull the bed-clothes back)

Gareth: Leave off.

Kevin: Make me.

(Martin goes over to Gareth’s bed and pulls back the sheets)

Martin: Now stop it. I’m really surprised. You’re all in here together. I’d have thought you’d have tried to get on with each other.

Kevin: Oh we try sir. It just don’t work.

(Laughter. Kevin moves to his own bed. Gareth is now sitting on the side of his bed trying to hide his face. Peter snatches a glance)

Peter: He’s cryin’. Look he’ s cryin’.

Gareth: No I ain’t. I just got somethin’ in my eye.

Martin: (Sitting on Gareth’s bed, putting his hand on his shoulder) Don’t worry. They’re only teasing,

Peter: I wouldn’t get too close, Sir. Ask Brian what he did to the kids at his last place.

Martin: That’s over now.

Peter: Not here. They don’t never leave me alone. Never,

Andrew: Ah didums.

(Joan returns with David)

Kevin: Watch out, here comes trouble.

Joan: For you, Kevin. Very probably,

Andrew: This the new bloke?

Joan: That’s right: David. He’s still rather shy, so give him time to settle. Now come on all of you, into bed. (To Martin, seeing him with Gareth) Having problems?

Martin: Just a little ragging. All forgotten.

(Kevin whose bed is next to David’s has noticed his clothes on the chair)

Kevin: Hey, that ain’t fair. The new kid’s got one of them new shirts.

Joan: Put it down Kevin.

Kevin: But you promised I’d be the first.

Joan: Honestly, I sometimes wonder if this isn’t the Juniors.

Kevin: It ain’t right. The ones who bin here longest should have the most privileges,

Joan: You wear me out. Really you do. What does it matter?

Kevin: It matters cos it ain’ t fair.

Joan: Shush.

(Martin has stood to let Gareth get into bed, and is now standing between his bed and Peter’s. Peter clenches his fist and threatens him)

Peter: Lookin’ for a bit o’ bother, son?

Martin: No, of course not,

Peter: Then you’d better watch your step, hadn’t you?

(Martin moves away and looks at Joan who is shaking her head at him)

Joan: No. Lesson number one. (She moves to Peter) How about me? I’m game for a fight.

Peter: Tough luck. I don’t fight children.

Martin: Oh. Yes I see.

Joan: All mouth our Peter, aren’t you?

(She advances on him playfully and pushes the sheets over his head)

Peter: Help. Murder.

Kevin: Go it Joan. Suffocate him.

(Joan lets go of the sheets and Peter emerges. He has evidently enjoyed himself)

Peter: I’ll do you for attempted murder.

Joan: But I was only tucking you up, wasn’t I lads?

Kevin: That’s right.

Gareth: Yeh.

Peter: Sucks!

Gareth: What about me, Miss? Tuck me up?

Joan: (Moving to Gareth) You, Gareth? How could I resist? (Kevin whistles the wedding march) Oh congratulations, Kevin. When’ s it to be? (Joan smooths Gareth’s sheets)

Gareth: Gimme a goodnight kiss an all. I’ll be a bad lad if you don’t.

Joan: But you couldn’t be.

Gareth: My mam always used to,

Andrew: Liar! Yer said yer ain’t seen her for years.

Gareth: Before.

Andrew: I bet she was too busy kissin’ all the other blokes.

Gareth: She never!

Joan: Of course not. You should be ashamed of yourself, Andrew.

Andrew: It’s true. That’s why he went to Brook Farm. Cos his mum couldn’t look after him proper.

Gareth: That ain’t true.

Andrew: Ask Brian Drake. He was there wi’ you. An he told us what you did there an all.

Joan: (To Gareth) Take no notice. You know Andy. All gas.

Gareth: Yeh. He’ a got more gas than the whole North Sea.

Andrew: Watch it Bubbles. Makes yer sick. Carryin’ on like a bleedin’ kid.

Peter: I remember our dad, when he used to come home of an evenin’ , sloshed like a bucket up a mountain. He’d come up the stairs, effin’ an blindin’, an into our room, where he’d pick on me brother Jack, who was nearest the door. He’d sway the bed an ask him if he were asleep. Then Jack’d say yes, an dad’d say good. Then he’d go out. (Kevin laughs) He’ s real hard, our dad. (To Martin) It was him as did this. (He points to the scar on his face)

Joan: That’s enough now. Time for your beauty sleep. (To Martin) And I’m sure you’ll agree. They need all they can get.

Kevin: Look who’s talkin’. (Joan and Martin move to the door)

Martin: Goodnight then.

Joan: Dream of me.

Kevin: Yeh, of killin’ you.

Joan: Charming.

Peter: I can think of better things to do to her.

Joan: Well think hard, because that’s as far as you’ll get. (She switches the light to the dim blue which remains throughout the night. They go out. Pause. David is snivelling)

Andrew: You – what’s yer name – stop snivellin’.

Peter: Leave him be.

Andrew: What’d she say yer name was? (No reply) I’m askin’ a tidy question; I expect a tidy answer.

David: David.

Kevin: (Mocking him) David.

Andrew: What yer cryin’ for? Never bin in a place like this before?

David: No.

Kevin: We ain’t all hardened criminals like you, Andy. Some of us are respectable.

Andrew: Leave off. Yer don’t even know what the word means. (To David) For shit’s sake, can’t yer stop that snivellin’?

David: It’ s my mam. I know I won’ t ever see her again.

Kevin: Don’t talk daft.

David: She’ll die, I know. With me not there. (He bursts out crying)

Peter: Put a sock in it, can’t yer? It’s gettin’ up my nose.

David: I just want to go home.

Kevin: Tell us summet else we don’ t know.

Andrew: Give it another couple o’ minutes. Then we’ll put him through the course.