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Welcome to SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY

Vol.3. No. 3. April - June 2010

 


CONTRIBUTORS

DRAMA

SECTIONS

Barrie Darke
Bruce J. Berger
Chad Norman
Christian Ward
Chuma Nwokolo Jr
Claire Askew
Colin Gallant
Davide Trame
Gary Beck
Ivor W. Hartmann
Katie Metcalfe
M C Hardwick
Michael Conley
Minna Salami
Pete Court
Roger Elkin
Warren Paul Glover
George Freek
 

 

ANY LAWFUL IMPEDIMENT

by

Warren Paul Glover

 

Cast:

 

Tom – the groom

Mary – the bride

The vicar

Uncle Eric

Mary’s mum

‘Big Dave’

Stevie

Assorted wedding guests

Ambulance crew and orderly

 

Interior. Church – TOM and MARY’s WEDDING day

 

TOM and MARY stand at the front of the church, facing the VICAR who has her back to the altar. Sunlight streams through the stained glass windows, falling primarily on the vicar and Tom.

 

The vicar, a heavy-set woman, is nervous as this is the first wedding she has presided over and she is desperate that nothing goes wrong. She is perspiring heavily.

 

Tom is sweating heavily also. His eyes are closed as realisation dawns that his hangover has just started to kick in. He sways on his heels and wrings his hands as the pain penetrates his brain.

 

Tom opens his eyes and casts an anxious look at the vicar, a look that says ‘please just get the ceremony over with so I can have another drink and start to feel better’.

 

The vicar regards Tom curiously. She leans forward slightly and sniffs her nose in Tom’s direction. She wrinkles her nose in disdain.

Tom’s eyes flit to the church’s vaulted ceiling as he starts to lose his concentration and his mind begins to wander. Sweat streams down Tom’s temple and down his cheek. Tom loosens his tie, gasping for air.

 

Tom swallows back some vomit with a start. He casts a panicked glance at Mary.

 

Mary is looking straight ahead at the stain glass windows, a picture of concentration.

 

Tom turns his attention to the vicar and cocks his head, wondering if the vicar is a lesbian, and whether he’s looking at the future first lesbian Archbishop of Canterbury.

 

Mary has a deep sense of foreboding and is impatient to get past the ‘I Do’ part of the ceremony so she can relax. The knuckles on one hand are white due to the strain of gripping her bouquet too tightly.  With her other hand she’s crossing her fingers that the next few minutes go smoothly. She can feel that she’s almost home and dry.

 

Behind them, the congregation sits quietly, expectant. A sea of silent faces.

 

VICAR

(smiling nervously) If anyone knows of any lawful impediment why this man, Tom…

 

A HUGE SNORE erupts from UNCLE ERIC, a fat, balding, beetroot-red faced man who has fallen asleep in the second row of the Bride’s side of the church. There is a release of tension as everyone LAUGHS, waking Uncle Eric up with a start.

 

UNCLE ERIC

(looking around) Carry on!

 

He falls back asleep. The vicar, Tom and Mary all smile conspiratorially at each other: the vicar’s is a relieved, reassured smile; Mary’s a determined smile; Tom’s a weak smile.

 

VICAR

(continues) …Why this man, Tom…

 

Outside, but carrying through to the church, is a SOUND OF TYRES ON GRAVEL, a SCREECH OF BRAKES, and DOORS SLAMMING (OS). Several members of the congregation are looking around in bewilderment. One or two are smiling to themselves. Tom’s BEST MAN looks at Tom with a very worried expression. Tom stares blankly back. TOM’S MUM, in the front row, rolls her eyes. MARY’S MUM sees this and glowers at Tom’s mum. Tom’s mum assumes a haughty expression and looks away.

 

VICAR

(almost giving up) …Tom…

 

The door of the church CLATTERS (OS) as it is flung open. RUNNING FOOTSTEPS (OS) echo on the mosaic floor. Heads are turning to see what the interruption is about. The vicar looks aghast; her mouth wide-open, sweat streaming down her face. Tom is fidgeting, trying not to look.

 

A baby CRIES and is hurriedly SHUSHED by its mother. Mary is looking straight ahead, her eyes fixed on the stain glass windows. Her shoulders are heaving up and down as she tries to keep a lid on her feelings. A huge shadow of a cloud passes by the stain glass windows, killing the incoming sun rays. Mary bites her lip and squeezes her eyes shut as she guesses what’s coming. A man (DAVE), his suit dishevelled through running and his shirt tails hanging out, skids to a halt as he reaches the half-way point to the altar. He passes a hand over his face, smoothing back hair that has fallen out of place.

 

DAVE

(yelling) Stop the wedding!

 

A collective GASP goes up from the congregation. Silence reigns for a moment, which feels like an eternity. The faces of the congregation are frozen in stunned surprise. Mary’s mum begins to stand but is dragged back down by her husband. Tom’s mum closes her eyes and crosses herself as she shakes her head from side-to-side.

 

VICAR

(affronted) I beg your pardon young man.

 

DAVE

Stop the wedding. She’s engaged to my brother. She can’t marry…him!

 

Dave points to Tom, who’s too stunned to speak. Tom looks deathly pale. Mary slowly opens her eyes. She’s biting her bottom lip and turning crimson as she turns around to face Dave and the whole church.

 

VICAR

(crestfallen) Is this true?

 

There are various MURMURS from the congregation. Some heads are nodding, some heads shaking. Some people are WHISPERING LOUDLY - ‘IT’S BIG DAVE!’

 

MARY

(trying to keep her cool) Yes, I mean no! I was engaged to his brother, but I’m not now.

 

A collective SIGH escapes the congregation. Female members of the congregation start to visibly relax, nervous smiles offering reassurance to each other.

 

DAVE

Stevie doesn’t know that. He still loves you, and you still love him!

 

MARY

Stevie’s in a fucking coma!

 

MARY'S MUM

Mary!

 

The vicar crosses herself.

VICAR

This is a House of God…

 

Mary cringes. She looks sheepishly at the vicar.

 

MARY

Sorry vicar. (looking at the whole congregation, as if pleading with them to understand) Stevie’s been in a coma for seven years. He’s a vegetable!

 

A collective GASP escapes the congregation. Heads are turning around and staring.

 

MARY

(looking at Dave) It’s time to move on. I’m with Tom now.

 

Mary looks at Tom, offers him a reassuring smile and holds out her hand to him. It hangs in mid-air. Tom looks as if he is in a trance.

Mary wiggles her fingers, desperately trying to make contact with Tom. Tom belatedly realises Mary’s hand is waiting for his and takes it. He smiles at her lovingly but Mary isn’t looking at him now. Mary is staring at Dave.

 

DAVE

We’ll see about that. Stevie’s awake! An excitable GASP rises from the congregation and POCKETS OF CONVERSATION break out amongst the pews. Dave turns towards the back of the church and gestures at someone, urging them to come forward. An AMBULANCE CREW and an accompanying ORDERLY wheel STEVIE down the aisle. Stevie is prostrate on a wheeled stretcher, a saline drip dangling above him, swinging around. As soon as the congregation sees Stevie there is a hushed SILENCE. A look of triumph appears on Dave’s face. Tom’s mum rolls her eyes. Tom’s dad stares at his shoes. Mary’s mum crosses herself and fingers her beaded necklace. Her lips are moving, like she’s saying prayers. Tom looks stunned. The vicar’s mouth has fallen open, her eyes wide with confusion. The colour has drained from Mary’s cheeks. Mary’s hand moves involuntarily to her mouth.

 

MARY

(incredulously) Oh my God!

 

VICAR

Mary!

 

MARY

(repentantly) Sorry vicar.

 

Stevie has been wheeled to the front of the church and parked before Tom and Mary.

 

VICAR

(looking at first Mary, and then Tom) The Lord moves in mysterious ways. Welcome to the House of God, Stevie.

 

Stevie blinks one eye.

 

Both Mary and Tom glare at the vicar. The vicar silently mouths ‘SORRY’ to Mary and Tom. Dave’s look of triumph has turned into a sneer.

 

DAVE

Go on! Tell him you don’t love him now you heartless bitch!

 

VICAR

(exasperated) Please, everyone, this is a House of God…

 

Mary recovers her poise.

 

MARY

(looking at Stevie) Sorry Stevie. I couldn’t wait for you forever. And Tom’s a decent man.

 

Stevie blinks once.

 

Tom looks at Mary and smiles wistfully.

 

MARY

You wouldn’t like him one bit, but I love him. I’m sorry.

 

A tear falls from Stevie’s eye and slowly traces its way down his cheek. The vicar’s face contorts into tears. She SNIFFLES.

 

VICAR

That’s so sad.

 

Mary glares at the vicar.

 

MARY

What’s sad is that Dave would use his poor brother as a pawn in his sick little game.

 

VICAR

(swallowing back her tears) Well, I hardly think…

 

Tom has a look of determination on his face. It looks as though the real Tom has joined the wedding for the first time. He suddenly finds his voice.

 

TOM

(to Dave) C’mon mate. Take your brother out of here. We’re all happy he’s out of his coma but this isn’t the time or the place.

 

MARY

(turns her anger on Tom.) Don’t be nice to him, Tom.

 

Tom frowns. He looks to the vicar, hopefully.

 

VICAR

Of course, it’s your wedding and you’re rightly upset…

 

MARY

(voice rising) Upset? I’ll show you all how upset I am!

 

With a flourish Mary pulls her wedding dress down off her left shoulder to reveal finger-shaped bruises. She offers her exposed shoulder to the congregation, moving her body to ensure everyone can see.

 

MARY

(with suppressed anger) This man here… (She gestures derisively at Dave.) …this concerned brother, tried to have it on with me last night. These bruises are thanks to him.

 

The congregation erupts into a HUBBUB. Tom stares at Mary, incredulous.

 

TOM

What?

Dave turns ashen. He starts to open his mouth to protest but is cut off my Mary.

 

MARY

That family are all the same: possessive! It wouldn’t surprise me if Stevie had faked his coma just so he could have someone wait on him hand-and-foot all this time.

 

The vicar tries unsuccessfully to interrupt Mary.

 

Dave makes a violent lunge towards Mary, knocking his brother’s saline drip out of his arm.

The ambulance crew and the orderly are set scrambling in a panic as the saline drip swings wildly.

Tom, now sobered up thanks to the events disrupting his wedding day, is alert to the danger and crash-tackles Mary out of harm’s way.

Mary and Tom fly through the air.

Mary’s bouquet is sent spinning skywards.

Mary and Tom come crashing back to earth and land in a collapsed heap on the mosaic floor of the church, a tangle of pavlova wedding dress and crumpled morning suit.

Tom has lost a shoe. Mary’s gartered leg sticks out from the tangle, like a monolith pointing heavenwards.

The vicar rolls her eyes heavenwards and nonchalantly sticks out a hand to catch the falling bouquet.

 

VICAR

Forgive me Lord, for we know not what we do.

 

The vicar punches Dave flat out cold. Shaking her sore fist from side-to-side and wincing a little with pain, she turns to address the ambulance crew and orderly.

 

VICAR

Get the Chuckle Brothers out of here. I have a wedding to conduct, and we can’t wait any longer.

 

The End

 

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April-June Index
COMPETITIONS
DRAMA
FICTION
POETRY

 COMPETITIONS

April 2010 (Poetry)

Judge's Report

April 2010 (Short Stories)

Judge's Report

July 2010 (Poetry)

Enter now.

July 2010 (Short Stories)

Enter now.

April-June Index / COMPETITIONS / DRAMA / FICTION / POETRY

 

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