NEW SCENE – TOM, Birth of a Legend, Act 1, Sc. 6 – October 22

by admin on October 22, 2019

To view all 5 earlier scenes, see previous  posts starting in September.

SUMMARY: Tom and his painter friends have been drinking and arguing over whether to enlist and fight in WW1. They are caught up in a mock music hall style of army recruiting scene and Tom is rejected because of his age and flat feet. They return to Tom’s cabin to confront his mistress, Winnie, with the news.


(TOM, HARRIS and JACKSON straggle back through door upstage where WINNIE is still sleeping. She reappears in a dressing gown, when they enter to slump on kitchen chairs, stool and armchair.)

WINNIE:                                                           Well, well, look what the cat’s dragged in. (She mimes pouring out tin mugs of coffee from a blackened coffee pot and hands them out. They drink in silence.)

WINNIE:                                                                    Well don’t all speak at once. I take it poor Fred caught his train?

(They nod glumly.)

WINNIE:                                                                              At least, you weren’t fool enough to get caught up in this war hysteria and join him, A.Y. I’m proud of you.

(They all look at JACKSON, who looks at the floor.)

WINNIE:                                                                  (beat) What?

HARRIS:                                                                       I’m afraid A.Y. succumbed to the pressure, like we all have, Winnie.

WINNIE:                                                                       All of you? Not Tom.

TOM:                                                                               We were all kinda drunk, seeing Fred leave on his own, and tried to enlist.

WINNIE:                                                                           I don’t believe you. Why? You of all people…

TOM:                                                                              I’m sick of being constantly singled out as a coward and a conchie, Winnie. Everyone I know has enlisted.

WINNIE:                                                                        So you caved in. After all your fine talk.

TOM:                                                                              I told you. We’d been on an all-night binge. We weren’t thinking too clearly.

WINNIE:                                                               Oh, I know what you were thinking. You did this deliberately to get free of me, didn’t you? Perfect excuse. And you took A.Y. with you. He would never have done it on his own.

JACKSON:                                                                      You’re wrong, Winnie. I signed up first and Tom followed me.

WINNIE:                                                               Goddamn you, A.Y. (She flails her arms at him, beating him on his chest.) I thought you were my friend and you do this to me…

JACKSON:                                                                       It’s okay, Winnie. They wouldn’t take Tom. They took me.

WINNIE:                                                                           Is this true, Tom?

TOM:                                                                  (nods) Too old.

HARRIS:                                                                     And flat feet.

(They ALL watch her reaction for a moment and begin to grin at her disbelief).

WINNIE:                                                               Oh Tom, thank God. (She throws herself into his arms and the men start laughing.) You bastards. I’ll get you for this. (She slaps TOM and then grabs JACKSON, punching him and lashing out with her feet, kicking at HARRIS. They howl with laughter, fending her off.) Flat feet? You’ll have flat heads when I’m done with you… (she grabs a cast iron frying pan off the table and threatens them with it until they overpower her and TOM removes it from her grasp. She slumps into the armchair and cries with relief as they look at each other sheepishly.)

JACKSON:                                                                     I’m sorry I let you down, Winnie. I don’t know what came over me. Seeing all those men signing up….

WINNIE:                                                                           I should never have let you go with them. I knew something terrible would happen, A.Y. I won’t forgive you for this.

JACKSON:                                                                        At least Tom will still be here.

HARRIS:                                                                   Saved by his flat feet and old age.

WINNIE:                                                                       For now. If this war goes on much longer they’ll be taking old men, flat feet or not.

TOM:                                                                   They’ll have to find me first. I’m heading up north to paint the spring break-up. You both want to have one last trip before they march you away? Winnie and I are leaving as soon as we get packed up.

WINNIE:                                                                   When we reach Canoe Lake I’ll drown you all and put you out of your misery. (She hugs each of them in turn.)


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