(Courtroom. NARRATOR, ANGEL, and JACK. SFX. Wind, hellfire, lighting effects. The following shouted as though on the deck of a ship during a storm.)
NARRATOR:  Angel, you know something
     that might work in your defence:
     if the hand of those who condemn you
     is caught in the till,
     things will be easier.

ANGEL:  I see a lot of things,
     but what binds me
     is stronger than
     the hippocratic oath.
     A lawyer must respect
     the confidentiality
     of his client. It's a contract.

NARRATOR:  Election promises are made,
     few are kept.

(PROSTITUTES enter with tables, CLIENT with chair. After placing they take up positions in 'court'.)
JACK:  Listen to her, Angel,
     she's been there before.

ANGEL:  Do you want me about, Jack?

JACK:  It's not that, it's just
     you score well for me.
     You keep us both happy.

ANGEL:  You're a romantic, Jack.

MAGISTRATE:  Do you like publicity, young lady?

ANGEL:  I didn't ask to be photographed.
     Those cameras
     are embarrassing my family.

MAGISTRATE:  You're embarrassing your family,
     let's get this right.

ANGEL:  You're making my problems
     their problems.

MAGISTRATE:  I see that you've been
     on the methadone programme before.

ANGEL:  'Done doesn't work for me.
     It's bad art.

MAGISTRATE:  It's bad art or jail.
     And you know the new law.
     It's just a matter of how much jail.
     You've confessed your guilt.

JACK (yelling out):  Mitigating circumstances!


ANGEL (as if in tongues. SFX under):
      Up-flow spreads and hazes
     the spaces between buildings,
     the step of a mother and her child
     is loud behind me; it's you,
     in the accusative, the princess
     and the pea, the hoaxes
     performed brightly
     in peasant's garb. I'm
     central European. We are
     parallel notations. Script.
     The sounds between the notes.
     The dust collects
     in make-up during the summer months.
     Clients like the stiff-nippled cold.
     Inquisitor. Purple. The monochrome
     businesses that fuel, ad nauseam.
     The furies are contained
     neatly. A register. Signatures.
     Income tax.

(SFX cease.)
JACK:  Tell her, Angel, tell her
     what you saw! Angel sees things,
     your Honour. And she can
     get inside people's dreams.
     But she's discreet,
     and only goes where she's wanted.

MAGISTRATE:  Enough from you.
     One more crack and that's it.


     Now, Angel, what's
     this gentleman
     talking about?

ANGEL:  I see things, your Honour,
     but it's not for me
     to say what I see.

MAGISTRATE:  Well, you're under oath
     and I expect the truth.

ANGEL:  I'm not sure
     if this is to do with truth,
     your Honour.
     But if you consider
     the court a gallery,
     we could hang pictures.

MAGISTRATE:  That sounds vaguely contemptuous,
     but I'll let it go.
     Don't forget you need a few
     grains of sand
     in your favour.

ANGEL:  What I see is nothing, really.
     People just think loudly.

MAGISTRATE:  If offered a jail sentence
     or a court order for rehabilitation
     which would you take?

JACK (yelling out):  Watch those preferences —
     they'll always be given
     to those who do you
     the most damage.

MAGISTRATE:  One more time, and that's it!

(ANGEL shifts across to MAGISTRATE. Wooing him/her.)
ANGEL:  Jack is right, your Honour.
     The people you've driven out
     from the city, the concrete
     blurring their meeting places
     and the by-laws moving them on.
     The preferences go to those
     who'd make their lives harder.
     The blood that flows through my cunt
     grows louder and louder.
     My clients ask me if I practise yoga.
(MAGISTRATE has moved to be near ANGEL Intimately.)
MAGISTRATE:  Don't think I don't know a spell
     when I hear it! We do in-service
     courses for things like this.
     I am an amateur photographer —
     don't you love that word...
     amateur  amateur  amateur...
(ALL repeat 'amateur' several times, descending into sotto voce.)
      know how to capture the moment.
     Carpe diem. But I'm not ready
     to make a martyr of you yet.
     And watch the language,
     your vocab's pushing the envelope.
     Do you believe in fate.
     As flies to wanton... girls?

ANGEL:  Sometimes I feel like the whole street
     is flowing through my body.
     I can hear the sweet words,
     the arguments, television sets.

MAGISTRATE:  Sometimes I get that feeling up here.
     The river flows through me.
     I sail at twilight.
     The cormorants hunch
     on the pylons and jetties.
     The landfill brings an intensity
     to what's left. I don't
     know what I mean, but preservation
     is a decision. The night heron
     lives in colonies. I see
     a lone heron stalking.
     I see one near the old brewery.
     Birds alive in the darkness.
     Is this what you're saying?

ANGEL:  It is, your honour.
     It is.
NARRATOR:  There's a link been forged here.
     He feels for her. The sentence
     will be harsh.
(MAGISTRATE moves back behind table.)
MAGISTRATE:  Six months.
(ALL gasp. For some it's too long, for others, it is not long enough.)
(ALL sigh, some with relief — some with exasperation.)
     But only because
     something's in the air.

NARRATOR:  Could it be
     politicians' promises?

(ALL express surprise, then exit other than PROSTITUTES.)
PROSTITUTES (sharing the following lines — perhaps while shifting tables etc. off stage):

     The street plays the game

     It always looks the same

     It stretches to the north
     and the south

     It is so very strange
     it's hard to rearrange

     I stand here with my hands and my mouth

     With my hands and my mouth.

     (rhythm change)

     I left home
     my mother beat me

     I left home
     my father fucked me

     I left home
     and hit the street

     How romantic!

(Rhythm change. CLIENT enters. PROSTITUTES share lines.)
CLIENT:  Where's the place that I can score?

PROSTITUTES:  Where's the hit?

     Where's the store?

CLIENT:  Where's the man?

PROSTITUTES:  I'm waiting ...

     Where's the hand?

     I'm waiting ...

     Where's the mouth?

     I'm waiting ...

     And, where's the hole?

     So coy!

(PROSTITUTES seize CLIENT and lift him up.)
CLIENT:  Where's the way out of here?

JACK (voice off):  Who wants out?

(PROSTITUTES exit, carrying CLIENT.)

Smith Street | Mudlark No. 19
Contents | Act 3, Scene One