(The street.)NARRATOR: From the third or fourth story
of the apartment blocks, the city
glows in the afternoon heat.
The light is sweet, not fragmented
and variegated as down in the street.
And sound rises up into lyric,
and counter beat sets up harmony,
the wave motion sweeps
out toward the hills, resonating
like the skin of the eardrum.
Down here, the city
is just flesh. A body.
I celebrate mine,
others replace theirs.
Angel is an angel is an angel.
Her offspring is hungry.
Her milk never came.
I am lactating
and the baby
will have mine.
(NARRATOR exits. COPS enter and seize CLIENT as he enters. COPS pull a mailbag over CLIENT and COP 1 lifts him onto shoulder in 'fireman's lift'.)COP 1: How many crimes
will she get away with now?
COP 2: Let's send a baby photo
COP 1: You've got to have
COP 2: All light is pollution.
COP 1: I was brought up C of E.
COP 2: And I a Baptist.
(COP 1 puts down CLIENT.)COP 1: But we got into this
feeling we could make a difference.
COP 2: I used an enlargement method
COP 1: I change on my own,
COP 2: I've always wanted a child.
COP 1: Ditto. But the brass
COP 2: Well, if it's got
(COP 1 picks up CLIENT and exits.)Jesus, without Jack and Angel
we're out of a job.
(COP 2 exits. NARRATOR and JACK enter.)NARRATOR: Something has happened to you, Jack.
You're well dressed, man caring
for the girls has come a cropper.
Your dark side is showing.
JACK: It was always showing, O my purveyor
(JACK starts, as ANGEL appears, as if from above, in a blue light, like an apparition of the Virgin.)ANGEL: The precipice, the waterfall,
faultlines and cracks in the surface,
broken fences, electric gates
swinging open onto cars,
traffic lights flicker,
headlights fray, blurred
on the edges the grass
struggles to hold back the concrete.
(The blue light flickers into a scratchy video image of ANGEL across the backdrop.)I made television last night,
couldn't recognise myself,
even determined not to recognise
myself. They condemn me as failed
woman and mother and citizen
outright. No place on the census
for such flotsam and jetsam,
that sea of light flooding
out like filth from blocked drains.
NARRATOR (pleading): What do you see?
ANGEL: Reporters and policeman and doctors
JACK: Rehabilitation. Parole.
(JACK exits.)ANGEL: They think I planned the birth
to keep them out of my heart-space.
Like they said with Lindy
taking what little
she had left
drew their mother's milk
and spat it back at her.
The film that rolls on like an oracle
I keep to myself. They fear
NARRATOR: Where will you go?
ANGEL: A flight into Egypt,
(MAGISTRATE enters with 'baby' and places it in ANGEL'S arms. NARRATOR moves toward ANGEL the three forming a group together, with ANGEL in the centre.)ANGEL: It's the light in the hair
the camera remarked on.
My hair, the hair
I could almost believe was mine
if I let go, drifted
down the street
before breaking out
into the black light.
(ANGEL, MAGISTRATE, and NARRATOR exit. PROSTITUTES enter and form line. JACK enters and 'picks' them up as he crosses. PROSTITUTES follow JACK off stage. CLIENT enters, sees everyone has gone. He takes up starting position under Belltower. Lights fade on him.)
Smith Street | Mudlark No. 19
Contents | Act 1, Scene One