WIFE: [Snuggling down beside her husband] I saw your brother yesterday.
HUSBAND: [Sarcastically] What did that no-hoper want?
WIFE: I donít know. I waved, but I guess he didnít see me.
HUSBAND: Uh Uh! He saw you alright. He just didnít want to Ďlowerí himself and acknowledge you!
WIFE: [Gets out of snuggle and sits forward on the couch] I donít get you two. Youíre flesh and blood! So why canít you get along?
HUSBAND: [Menacingly] Flesh and blood, my foot. Heís adopted. Mum and dad fostered him and then adopted him. Heís a scummy freeloader thatís what he is.
WIFE: [Takes a sip from her mug] Thatís just silly. Heís family whether heís adopted or not. Iíve never understood this animosity between you two. Does he owe you money? [She pauses briefly and then suggests other reasons] A favour? Did he wreck a favourite toy? What is it that fuels this war between you both?
HUSBAND: [Flicks off tv. Gets up and paces angrily] Donít worry - he owes me - [pointing to his wife] big time. And heíll pay. At least he will if I have anything to do about it.
WIFE: [Standing. Becoming angry too] Why are you both so stubborn about resolving this?
HUSBAND: [Loudly] He killed my mum, okay!
WIFE: [Her anger diffused] Your mum! Sheís fine. I had lunch with her yesterday. [Flops down onto the couch again and sips at her mug] I think you may be exaggerating just a little.
HUSBAND: [Flustered. Pacing. Agitated] No! No, I donít mean he Killed her. I mean he killed her!
WIFE: [Bites her lip to keep from laughing. She picks up a biscuit and begins to nibble at it] Oh! I see! [Says more seriously] Sweetie, this is ridiculous!
HUSBAND: [Adamant] He did. I swear it! [Reminices with anger] When we were kids. We had this cat. It was mumís pride and joy. Anyway, he was mowing the front lawn when he mowed over the cat and chopped off itís tail. Mum was devasted. She took it to the vet and they tried to stitch it back on, but it went all black and then it shrivelled up and fell off. It cost us a fortune in vet fees and all because of that good-for-nothing idiot.
WIFE: [peers at her biscuit, having just lost her appetite] I donít feel like eating this now. [Sarcastically] Thanks very much! [Puts biscuit and mug down] What has this sad, horrible little tale - [Her husband scowls at her. She realizes the unfortunate choice of words. She covers her mouth to prevent laughing. Then biting her lip.] Oh! Iím sorry. Pardon the pun. What has all this got to do with your brother?
HUSBAND: [Thumps his fist into his hand] Heís Not my brother okay! You donít get it? That cat was a show cat. Worth a fortune! Mum didnít have the money or the heart to enter a cat in a show again after that. She couldnít afford the risk. She was never the same again. She seemed to lose interest in everything for ages.
WIFE: [Shakes her head and gets up to go to her husband. She puts a hand on his shoulder] What a dreadful sorry waste.
HUSBAND: [Feeling justified] I told you he killed her.
WIFE: [Sighs loudly. Begins to walk away again to stand near the couch] No! I didnít mean that. I meant itís a dreadful sorry waste that you canít forgive your brother over an accident with a [spits out the last word unbelievingly] cat!
HUSBAND: [Mumbling] It wasnít an accident.
WIFE: [Quizzically] You mean he did it deliberately?
HUSBAND: [Turns to face his wife] I reckon he did.
WIFE: Did you see him do it?
HUSBAND: [Turns away again] Sure I did!
WIFE: [Knows heís lying. Says more firmly] Did you see him do it?
HUSBAND: [Guiltily] No! [Trys to justify himself] But I saw the cats tail after he did the deed. Mum made me run down to the servo to get a bag of ice to put it in.
WIFE: [Crosses arms and says sternly] The point is, darling, you donít know if he did it deliberately or not, do you?
HUSBAND: Yeah well, Iím 99% sure he did.
WIFE: Prove it to me.
HUSBAND: [Pleading] How?
WIFE: [She picks up the phone and holds it out to him] Ask him!
HUSBAND: [Adamantly] Iím not talking to him!
WIFE: [She walks over and puts the phone into his hands] Yes you are. I am not going to let you off the hook until this ridiculous argument is cleared up. Ring him Now!
HUSBAND: [Realizing he wonít get his wife to back down, he dials a number.] Hello! [Moodily and reluctantly] Yeah yeah! Just pipe down for a minute, you useless bag of monkey grease! [Looks at his wife and says very slowly and clearly]. My wife wants you to tell her why you deliberately killed mumís cat! [His wife wops him one on the arm in mock shock]
[He shoos his wife] Yeah, I know it was 25 years ago. Yeah! Well the same to you too. [He slams down the phone]
WIFE: What did he say?
HUSBAND: [In a ďtold you soĒ kind of a way] He told me I was a lying son of a ......
WIFE: [She interuppts quickly to stop him swearing] Okay! So that didnít work.
HUSBAND: He also implied that it was me who killed mums cat.
WIFE: Did he now! [She pauses and appears to realize something] Hmmm I wonder?
HUSBAND: [With growling fury] That idiot - I was nowhere near the mower that day. It was his job. He did it.
WIFE: [She picks up the phone again and pushes redial.] Hello! Donít hang up! Please, I havenít rung you to abuse you. No! Iím trying to get to the bottom of this macabre little story. Tell me. [Looks at her husband whilst talking to his brother on the phone. Her husband is shaking his head and gesturing ďnoĒ] Did you see my husband run over the cat with the mower that day? No! But youíre positive he did. [She nods her head as if agreeing. Her husband slaps his thighs and then raises his hands into the air in total frustration and a ďtold you soĒ attitude] Uh ha! Okay, bye! [She tries to squeeze this word in as it appears the brother is hanging up] Thank you! [She immediately dials another number].
HUSBAND: Who are you ringing now!
WIFE: [To her husband] Your Mum. [To the phone.] Hi Mum. Yeah fine thanks. Hey listen. Do you remember when your cat got run over by a lawn mower? Can you tell me about it? Uh ha! Yeah! Oh really! I see! Uh ha! [Laughs lightly. Her husband is pacing agitatedly. He tries to grab the phone during but his wife pushes him away] Is that how it happened! Youíre kidding? Really? Yeah sure! Okay! Yep! Thanks! Thanks heaps, mum. Yeah! Iíll see you soon. Okay, bye. [She switches off the phone but doesnít put it down. She looks gently at her husband]
HUSBAND: [He is tense and nervous] So what did she say. Iím right arenít I?
WIFE: No! Youíre wrong and so is your brother. [Puts down phone on the coffee table. She sits down on the couch and crosses her arms and legs. She looks up at her husband, but says firmly] This whole argument has been a 25 year misunderstanding because none of you sat down to get the full story from each other. You both made a decision that you were right and that was the end of it.
HUSBAND: [Confused] So how am I wrong? Tell me!
WIFE: [Still looking at him] You didnít hurt the cat!
HUSBAND: Yeah I realize that.
WIFE: Your brother didnít hurt the cat.
HUSBAND: [He winds his finger at her] Keep going!
WIFE: [Matter of factly] Your mum did.
HUSBAND: [Surprised] What?
WIFE: [She sits on the edge of the couch again and gestures for him to sit beside her] You assumed that your brother was still mowing the lawn when the cat got hurt. [He moves to sit beside her] But heíd been called away to fix something else by your dad, half way through the job. Your mum eventually came out to finish the mowing. The mower was still going and just had the brake on. She was carrying the cat. [He suddenly moans and hangs his head as if he recalls the real story] When she got to the mower the cat freaked out at the noise and leaped out of her arms. It hit its head on the mower, got knocked out and fell onto the lawn, unconcious. Your mum panicked, bent down to rescue it and bumped the brake off and the mower rolled forward chopping off the catís tail. Your mum raced inside to get towels and to try and find ice. She sent your brother out to rescue the mower which was still roving about the lawn all by itself. You came out - saw your brother with the mower and the tail-less cat and jumped to the conclusion that heíd done it. Your brother took one look at you and thought youíd done it coz you looked as white as a sheet and as guilty as hell. [She pauses slightly then puts a hand on her husbands knee] Your mum got depressed because of her own grief and sense of guilt, not because of you two.
HUSBAND: [He sighs sadly and wipes his face with his hands] I was guilty. Mum had asked me to finish that mowing job while she groomed the cat for a show. I didnít. She got angry and said sheíd do two jobs at once to show me how useless I was!
WIFE: [Gently] So why have you blamed your brother all these years?
HUSBAND: [The truth is out] Coz I always resented how he took my place in the family pecking order. Iíd been the eldest until he came along. He was this nasty, mean little snotty nosed brat from the slums when he came to live with us, and then Mum and Dad adopted him and made him.....[He cannot complete the sentence] He used to lie and cheat and steal from them and yet they...[Again, he stumbles to complete his sentence]
WIFE: [Understanding. Kindly] Yeah! I know. They loved him like a Son. [She rubs his back reassuringly] So youíve held this painful little grudge against him all these years because you felt cheated and youíve basically resented him being loved by your mum and dad.
HUSBAND: I guess thatís it.
WIFE: [Continuing] So even though your parents love you both - equally and the same - you felt he owed you.
HUSBAND: Yeah. I know!
WIFE: What happened to the cat in the end?
HUSBAND: [Snorts. And dully recollects the cat] Hmpf! Mum had that cat for [pause, condsidering] Ooh! For another ten years, maybe. It died of old age. [Smiles weakly] Completely tail-less!
WIFE: [She becomes animated again. Determinedly] Itís time to cancel the debt, my dear. Itís time to mend this bridge and confess. To say sorry. Heís your brother, whether blood or not, and he owes you nothing! [She picks up the phone again and hands it to him] Call him.
HUSBAND: [He looks at the phone then at his wife. Slowly and remorsefully
he dials the number.] Hello! Wait! Donít hang up. I have
something I need to tell you...
© Michelle Pitman 1999, all rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any
entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what
purpose the play is performed. She may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org