MONOLOGUE: Steel Roses

by Michael Monkhouse

Setting:         Stage is empty except chair

Time:            Evening

Character:     SEYMOUR, a sad and confused teen


The Baron of Beef. Everyone’s favourite pisser, my favourite solution.

Outside there’s a butcher’s and a vegetarian restaurant with the

obligatory old bastard pissing up the side with his jeans ripped to

expose his arse. When the wind gusts the spray into my face…


It’s the smallest, smokiest, pokiest pub—or bar—or cesspit—you could

hope for. The walls sweat under a fluorescent light that flashes on and

off, on and off. Yobs cheer over their beers at the boxing on the telly,

the tiny black-and-white telly above the barman who’s spindly and

moustachio’d and has red smudges across his apron. (PAUSE.) I look

left and there’s a wizened witch on a high backless stool in a tight

leather miniskirt, a blue jacket dripping yellow at the armpits, and

thick tights squashing the hairs that mushroom from her thighs. Her

face is sandpaper with a vermilion smudge where her lips should be

and wisps of wool where her hair should be and they remind me of

strands spouting from a Chinaman’s mole. A sign of fortune, I’m told.

When she isn’t tugging on her rollie she’s squawking at volumes

inversely proportional to the interest of anyone around her. (PAUSE.)

I look right and there’s a tubby toddler guzzling a lemon ice-cream

laced with flies and stringy snot. When he drops it cone upwards and

screams Mummy rams him into her tits and says he’s so advanced for

his age and the yobs hurrah again. (PAUSE.) The door bursts open

and a bony harassed-looking woman in a black dress and high heels

shoves me outa the way—another hurrah—she’s all bleached hair and

skinny misshapen little hands swinging a pram in and round and past

me. A short plump guy trots in after her, scratching his chest with one

hand and doing his flies up with the other. He doesn’t talk to her, just

plonks himself down and stares at the match. One boxer slugs the

other round the mouth and everyone goes crazy. (PAUSE.) I elbow

my way to the barman but he’s busy pouring a beer and a Bailey’s for

the woman; who grabs them and disappears. When I look back I can’t

see the pram for the man, or hear them for the boxing, but I know

they’re arguing. I put a fag in my mouth, grit my teeth round it: Large

beer please. Cool. In a bottle… He whips a small can of lager from

under the counter, snatches my screwed-up tenner and holds it up to

the light. Another cheer. Then the till clings open and a pristine fiver

falls into my hand so I hold that up to the light. Silence. I shove it in

my pocket, grab the can and back away… (PAUSE.) I crack it open

and slurp at it. Then that woman slams her Bailey’s down and goes,

We gotta get married. He doesn’t answer, just smirks over his fag at

the boxing. I don’t hear what she says next, I just see that poor bastard

get slugged to death and hear everyone applaud—everyone on the

telly, everyone in the bar, everyone except me—and when they shut up

she goes, If I’d known you weren’t gonna marry me I wouldn’t’ve had

it. The kid starts crying, the man stubs his fag out and claps—that guy

just got his nose broken—then he shrugs: Well tell it that. Tell it that

when it’s old enough to understand. (PAUSE.) I bump into the pram

and the baby wails and the toddler bawls and the crowd shouts and the

green flashes and the woman spits and the boxer falls sweating and

heaving on the canvas and… (PAUSE.) It’s raining I leaning back

against the pub door, my eyes wide and bloodshot. I shiver and throw

my fag away, that sweaty fag I ain’t even lit yet. ‘Baron of Beef’

flashes red and green, that old bastard’s crouching down for a shit, the

veggie restaurant’s marked ‘Closed’ and men in red aprons are lugging

pigs out of a van and into the butcher’s. Someone’s unhooking a corpse

and dragging it away. Some fat guy with red cheeks and blood on his

apron… Pig. Eyes hollow for the worms, arse skewered straight, snout

steaming ugly for the crowds. Flaccid fat fingers…


The butcher chops and lops, it’s a clean cut. This one’s a steak, that

one’s a rasher. The oil slides and sizzles… Hisses in the saucepan.

Blood on my shirt, sweat in my mouth. Gristle in my gut… Vomit

squirms worms on the floor. Live pig, vicious bastard, the Earth will

maul and mangle. (PAUSE.) Everyone has their own hell and

everyone knows what it’s like. What it feels like and sounds like and

smells like. Hell ain’t the wailing and the gnashing of teeth, hell ain’t

what some smarmy slimy priest tells kids about to stop them nicking

sister’s sweets, hell ain’t some abstract concept dreamed up to scare

the shit out of us. Hell’s right here the minute you’re born.

copyright © 2011 Michael Monkhouse. All rights reserved.

Michael Monkhouse was born in the North, bred in the South, educated at Cambridge, bored poopooless in Germany for a bit, now happily settled in the Eternal City. His career spans over five jokes. He’s trodden the boards at Footlights, performed and written in Italy, and once got a smile out of a German. Currently in his very early 30s, he’s enjoying this chance to spread his wings and burn his fingers.

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