James’s Da: A Wee Scene

Photo by Melissa Reid

Photo by Melissa Reid

Four men (JAMES, UNCLE GREG, DAVIE, DRIVER) stand looking under the bonnet of a broken-down hearse. DAVIE steps back and looks to the sky.

DAVIE: Ye ken what, lads? Auld Tommy would've been laughing his heed aff the noo. Aw us stood in the rain trying tae fix a motor.

(The rest of the men ignore him.)

DAVIE: Did ye hear me, lads? I said Tommy would’ve been laughing-

UNCLE GREG: Davie, shut up, ye’re no helpin. Ah fuck it, I dinnae ken what I’m lookin at here.

(The three other men step away from the car and stand with DAVIE. JAMES and DRIVER unfold umbrellas and the four men group underneath.)

JAMES: What noo?

DRIVER: The replacement car’s on its way. Could be another half hour. Could be half a day.

JAMES: You two can go ahead (gestures to UNCLE GREG and DAVIE). I’ll get youse there.

(DAVIE looks at UNCLE GREG with his eyebrows raised. UNCLE GREG frowns and shakes his head. DAVIE begins to also shake his head.)

DAVIE: Out of the question, Jamesy. Leave nae man behind, that’s my motto.

JAMES: Cheers, Davie.

UNCLE GREG: That’s funny. You used to say it was every man for himsel when we went oot on the lash. Ye were always disappearin wi whatever lassie would gie ye yer hole.

DAVIE: (shrugs) A man needs mare than one motto, Greggy. Anyway, I’m tellin yeese. Auld Tommy would’ve been pishin himsel the noo.

UNCLE GREG: Davie, ye dinnae need to kid on because James is here. He kens his da was a dour bastard. Would he fuck be laughin.

DAVIE: I meant, wherever he is noo. He’ll be laughin.

UNCLE GREG: Whit d’ye mean, “wherever he is”? He’s right fuckin there. (points to hearse, then begins knocking on the back window) Would ye keep it doon in there? Stop laughin at everything, ye dead prick.

(A few moments of silence, except for the falling rain.)

DAVIE: Bound tae be a hearse kickin aboot, somewhere.

UNCLE GREG: It's been half an hour. If there was one kickin aboot, we'd have it by noo. There's clearly nae hearses kickin aboot.

DAVIE: Well, it doesnae need tae be a hearse, does it? What aboot an estate car? As long as it’s got a long boot.

JAMES: It’s no like a cheap mattress. Ye cannae fold my da in and close the boot before he springs back oot.

DAVIE: Aye, that’s a point, lad. Turnin up in an estate! Auld Tommy definitely would’ve been laughin at that. I’m telling yeese.

(DRIVER takes out his mobile phone and makes a call, stepping out of earshot, taking his umbrella with him. The other three huddle under JAMES’S umbrella.)

UNCLE GREG: Nah, my brother wisnae much of a giggle. More like the most cynical prick ye’d ever meet. Didnae trust nothin or naebody. Remember when he swore doon there was nae chance Blackburn would win the league? Called ye daft just for suggestin something oot the ordinary might happen.

DAVIE: And when he said there was nae way DVD’s would be mare popular than videos? He was still tapin Corrie on a VHS player till the day he died.

(They all laugh, before a pause.)

JAMES: I remember…he told me there was nae chance Sarah would lose the baby.

(UNCLE GREG puts a hand on JAMES’s shoulder.)

UNCLE GREG: It was a horrible thing, that, James.

JAMES: Aye, I ken. And I swear, I’m no tryin to depress yeese. (with a sad smile) I just mean, I was still glad he said it. It didnae matter that he was wrong. It made me feel better, that he was so sure. Ye want yer da to be like that. Sure.

(The three men nod and the sound of rain is heard louder. DRIVER returns to the group.)

DRIVER: Right. Our other hearse is being used at the minute. We'll need to wait till that funeral's over before we can move the body.

JAMES: Tommy.

DRIVER: What’s that?

JAMES: My da’s name was Tommy.

DRIVER: Aye. Sorry, son.

UNCLE GREG: We cannae be waitin that long. We'll just need tae, we'll just need tae...

JAMES: Need to what?

UNCLE GREG: What if we…if we just…carry him?

JAMES: Carry him?

UNCLE GREG: Aye, it's only a wee bit doon the road. We cannae keep them aw waitin much longer. Yer da wisnae a heavy guy, anyway.

DAVIE: Ye could say he’s a dead weight, eh, lads?

(No one laughs.)

DRIVER: Carrying it then, lads? No the first time I've seen it.

(The four men open the back of the hearse and start manoeuvring the coffin.)

DAVIE: Dinnae worry, Greggy. He’s no heavy. He’s yer brother.

UNCLE GREG: Davie, I swear ye’re puttin a right dampener on this funeral.

Ross Sayers Ross Sayers is a writer of Scottish fiction who struggles to stay in third person when writing bios, so I do. My debut novel, Mary’s the Name, was released in February 2017.