Jacob Horstgrab, né Moraine, walks into the kitchen and sits down at the table, full of joy, expecting the same response from his foster father, Joseph and Joseph’s girlfriend, Eve. The joy was short lived.
Yes! I’ve made it at last. Eighteen today.
Don’t look so glum, grant me birthday greetings at least.
We’ll soon get on to that.
What’s the matter?
We’ve got something important to discuss.
Your dad’s decided to … now that you’ve reached
Eighteen and you’ve finished your A-Levels …
I must be blunt … this is your last day here.
In fact, your last hour. You’ll soon have a
Place of your own to rent. How cool is that?
My … last hour? You’ll show me out onto
The streets to a place I have never seen?
Does the Foster Agency know of this?
It was always arranged this way with them.
Eve is correct. I wish it weren’t so but …
But you forgot to mention it to me.
I tried, Jacob, many times to tell you,
But your father always prevented me.
Which is hardly a big surprise to me.
As much as I can’t stand your cant, pious,
Two faced, bourgeois, Church of England values …
If I had known before, then I could have …
Your mum wanted you to remain with us,
Which was against my much better judgement,
But the lady from the Foster Agents,
Maia I think, thought it best to press on
As we haven’t always seen eye to eye.
Please stop calling her Mum. Eve moved in here,
I think, a bit over three years ago.
It’s true, you’re more like my little brother.
Getting back to the point, they’ve found for us
A cute young girl, she’s to arrive today.
Oh, the poor child. How old?
Just three, I’m sure.
Oh right, a most impressionable age.
And what is that supposed to mean, young man?
I mean she will grow up, moulded perhaps,
In the image of a pious lady
Of the true faith … as if she’ll have a choice
Living in the joyless Horstgrab Mansion.
Our friends told us last night that you looked like
A fine young man outside the church, well groomed
And so polite. ‘You must be proud of him’,
One said. I said ‘I am, he’ll make a fine
Husband one day, even if he is a
Sceptic.’ Another said, ‘they all seem to
Be at that age, but he’ll grow out of it.
It’s such a shame I don’t have a daughter’.
Of course, it’s much easier to form a
Pleasing display in the gaze of someone
When you will not see them again the day after.
Did you notice I did not sleep through the
Sermon or groan through the dull hymns this time?
It’s best not to say what we really think
Of each other in the presence of God.
That’s all because I’ve a mind of my own.
Rubbish, you’ve been a waste of time and space.
If asked, I’d say, ‘Eve took good care of me,
But the father? If I lived just with him,
I’d be better off in an orphanage.’
I did what I thought was necessary.
A rag like you needs a firm hand to keep
In check. Just think what you’d be like now
Had you lived with those yobs over the road.
Right, no TV, little music, except
Bloody choir practice, no sport, years of
Bible Study when I could have tasted
My first tipple. Hardly a broad minded …
I know you don’t do what other kids do,
But please trust me, it’s a blessing in time.
What? A blessing? Whilst the other kids are
Playing football, watching the Six Nations,
Checking latest news on the internet,
Chilling to cool music, hanging out in
Cafes, I’m stuck reading the Book of Job.
Thank us when you make it up to Heaven.
I doubt if I’ll see you up there, after
You stole my bet, shamed me in front of the sixth form
And went on your travels at my expense.
It’s straight to Hell with you and your gambling.
Better to bet than to self flagellate.
Why, it teaches you to deny the flesh.
Sure, it also gives you big scars as well.
I wear those scars with pride, it shows that I
Suffer and bleed for the cause of my faith.
Hah! If you were devout, you’d have given
That ten thousand pounds to a good cause, but
You lapped it up in a five star resort.
In one village I gave alms to the poor.
With the tone on the I.
Well … yes, maybe …
And what makes you such a perfect idol?
I never said I was, but at least I
Mean what I say. Take the time when I brought
A friend home, and you said that he couldn’t
Stay as you were busy with DIY,
And yet, after, you said you did not want
Him here because he is a Jew. And then,
When I was the only one in the class
Who could not go on a school trip, you told
Miss Baines that you could not afford to pay,
But just because I would miss Sunday School.
Listen, we’ve lost much time, Maureen will be
Here soon – that’s the girls’s name. Please, get packing.
And to what grand palace am I going?
A great community housing trust has
Found you a flat, with one bedroom, fully
Furnished, over by the river, number
Six, no wait, eight Ablation Drive. You’ll stay
At least until you find some work. You’ll meet
Clara Palmer, who’ll show you all around.
Oh she’s such a sweet young lady, I think
You’ll take to her, she’s most sympathetic.
She’s a Christian, too?
Well, no she’s not …
That’s typical. As soon as he moves out,
Corrupted by heathens, I don’t agree …
And there you go again, frowning upon –
Jacob, you’ve made your point, give it a rest.
As much as I agree with you, I think –
As much as you agree with him? So you’re
Siding with him over me now, are you?
Shush, both of you. I’ve phoned for a taxi for you,
It should arrive in the next ten minutes.
Please, thank Eve for all that. None of my
Bloody doing. I’d soon have made you walk.
With all his of luggage? Really, Joseph,
You can be so, so cruel sometimes. I hope
You won’t be like that at all with Maureen.
Cheers, Eve. That is the best birthday present,
So much better than what I had wished for.
It was the least that I could do. You know,
That must be the first time you called me Eve.
If it were up to me, I’d soon stop that.
He’s an adult now, so why not? We can’t
Give you that much money, enough
Just to see you through for the next month. I’ve
Arranged for you to sign on on Wednesday.
I was hoping for ten thousand pounds more,
But I suppose you must save for your holidays.
What a bloody … as if you’ll get that back.
I know. Not from you at any rate, but
I feel sure I’ll earn it before too long.
Yeah, then waste it at the racecourse no doubt.
Even just a chocolate sundae is a
Sin in your eyes. Hold on, I’ll be right back.
Jacob goes upstairs to pack.
Let’s hope that we’ll never see him again.
The Lord forgives, though I question quite why.
Joseph! Don’t speak of the Lord in that way.
That sly bugger was born of the devil.
For you, maybe. He’s lost his way, poor soul.
But what happens when he soon starts gambling
And, God help us, winning. He’ll spend it in
Gin joints, arcades and on easy hussies.
I doubt … you sure it’s not us who’ve failed him?
I’m a man of the church, I fail no one!
A man …? You can’t just throw the poor lamb out!
I’m sure he’ll take care of himself. For me,
He’s just a hopeless cause. I’m glad he’ll
Far, far away from here. I couldn’t bear
To think of him roaming along our streets.
Would be a stain on our reputation.
Oh, so that’s what it is, I see. You don’t
Want anyone to think you’ve brought him up
Badly, and you’re still the model burgher.
Is it beneath you to apologize?
Apologize to him? Jacob? What for?
Because he’s been locked up here. No wonder
He’s turned to sports betting as a release.
You’ve turned down all my tips for fun day trips
To take his mind off things. Really, I think
He would have been better living elsewhere.
How dare you say …! And what gives you the right?
The taxi driver beeps his horn.
Because you’re a … oh, the taxi’s outside.
I’ll deal with you later. After he’s gone.
Joseph leaves towards the back garden, turning his back on Jacob who comes down with his luggage.
Do keep in touch, with me if not with Joseph.
Aye, well, I’ll do my best. Where’s he going?
He’s just in one of his foul moods. I’ll miss
You so, so much, I couldn’t be myself
with you … I was always so fond of you.
I’ll miss you too. Not him for a second.
I don’t blame you. I’ll try to call on you
Next week when he takes young Maureen out for
The day, he’s planned something devout no doubt.
Until next week.
Take care, my dear, so long.
The two hug and wave goodbye, as Jacob takes his belongings to the taxi, looking behind at the house for the last time.
© 2017 AGP